(QCOSTARICA) — The gross volume of banana exports fell 13%, while pineapple exports are down 15% in the first trimester of the year compared to the same period in 2014.
The decline reflected in the data provided by the Promotora del Comercio Exterior (Procomer) – Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Promoter, is due to the impact of erratic weather in the northern zone and Caribbean, according to producers.
According to the Procomer website, foreign sales of bananas was 631.753 tonnes in the first four months of this year, compared to 726.804 tonnes for the same period in 2014. With respect to pineapples, total sales was 589.653 tonnes between January and April of this year, down from 695.049 tonnes for the same period in 2014.
“Bananeros” and “piñeros” (banana and pineapple producers in Spanish) say they are not yet at the point of having to lay off workers, but fear that the El Niño may worsen the situation.
Banana producers in Costa Rica employ 40.000 people directly, while pineapple producers provide employment for 25.000.
The President of the Cámara Nacional de Productores y Exportadores de Piña (Canapep), Abel Chaves, said excessive rainfall during June and August 2014 is the cause, explaining that producers were not able plant targeted areas. He also explained that the water not only complicates their work, but also contributes to a higher deterioration of machinery.
At the Cámara Nacional de Productores Independientes de Banano (Anaproban), Edgar Quiros, said the cold at the end of 2014 reduced growth of the fruit.
Luis Felipe Arauz, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), said there is little that can be done given the impact of the weather.