The Banana Growers Association from Magdalena and La Guajira (Asbama) asked the National Government to create an agenda that would allow them to look for solutions to the crisis in this sector.
The problems are attributed to the revaluation of the peso against the dollar, rising input prices of fertilizers and phytosanitary control, lack of access to credit and a deficit of road infrastructure.
In a letter addressed to President Juan Manuel Santos the Chief Executive of Asbama, Anuar Escaf, prompted him to intervene so that a comprehensive plan of social action for the producing areas of bananas from the region, ensuring investment in basic sanitation, health and education is structured under the leadership of the Ministry of agriculture.
They requested support or incentives that would alleviate the costs of fertilisation and phytosanitary control of banana cultivation, the establishment of a Government policy of credit for working capital and investment that will ensure the sector’s access to the financial system and, in particular, small producers, 80 percent of which are not eligible for credit.
Escaf also asked the Government for its support in the construction and maintenance of secondary and tertiary roads of Magdalena, which due to their poor condition increase transportation costs, and in works of water supply and regulation necessary to ensure the competitiveness of the sector.
After coffee and flowers, bananas are the country’s third export. According to Escaf, in the departments of Magdalena and La Guajira this sector represents 51 and 22.7 percent of the agricultural GDP, respectively, contributing to more than 45,600 jobs in the region.
However, the sector’s crisis has forced many producers out of business. Of the existing 647 small producers in 2003 there are only 323 today, according to data from Asbama.