Q COSTA RICA – Costa Rica is breaking records. Earlier this week we learned of the record 2.9 million tourist arrivals for 2016. On Friday, the Corporación Bananera Nacional (Corbana) – National Banana Corporation, says 2016 was a record year for what was once Costa Rica’s main economic engine, banana exports.
According to Corbana, the banana export volume in 2016 reached 120 million boxes (each 18.14 kgs).
Before that, the highest volume recorded was 116 million boxes in 1998 and 1999, when banana plantations accounted for almost 50,000 hectares (123,500 acres). Last year, the number was 43,000 hectares (106,000 acres).
The 2016 record reverses a decline in productivity, measured in the number of boxes per hectare. In 2016, 2,800 boxes per hectare were harvested, while in 2015 it was 2,339, in 2014 it was 2,564.
The revenue from banana exports also reached an all-time high, last year setting a record US$986 million dollars.
Weather was an influencing factor in the downward trend of the last couple of years, in 2015 plantations were affected by climate problems, generated by the El Niño phenomenon. For that reason, Corbana considers the more reasonable comparison to the 2106 figures is with 2014, which can be described as a “normal” period.
Best in the World
Between 2002 and 2006, Costa Rica was responsible for 13% of all banana exports around the world, making it the planet’s second-largest producer of the fruit. Thirty-eight countries around the world imported Costa Rican bananas in 2009, with 43% of all exports shipped to the United States.
How it Began
Bananas were first cultivated in 1878, making Costa Rica the first country in Central America to develop an industry around the fruit. In 1890, the industry began a period of rapid growth thanks to the completion of a new Atlantic railway.
Learning about bananas
Travelers in Costa Rica can go on a banana tour to learn about how the famous yellow fruit has had a strong impact on the country’s economy and culture.