Banana export prices fell from 2.40 to 1.30 dollars per box in the last six months, stated the president of the Community Organization of Banana Workers of the Tropic of Cochabamba, Agustin Conde.
According to Conde, the decrease in the international price of bananas is a response to the introduction of Paraguay's, Ecuador's, and Brazil's production into the markets of Buenos Aires. "Paraguay's bananas strongly compete with Bolivia's bananas, that's why there's been a drop in prices in recent months," he said.
Transporting the bananas from Paraguay costs less than transporting the bananas from Bolivia. Ecuador uses wooden boxes to move their bananas, which is less expensive than using cardboard boxes.
Currently, according to Conde, producing a banana costs 2.50 dollars, a price that can't be decreased. This situation is affecting nearly 1,500 farming families in five municipalities.
Conde said they had sought support from the National Alternative Development Fund (FONADAL) in search of technical advice and to improve the domestic production's competitiveness.
Bolivia exports bananas to Chile, Peru, and Uruguay on a smaller scale. The country's main market is Argentina. In 2016 the country exported 6.5 million boxes of bananas.
Conde said the research center and technology in the tropics will be implemented to assist the work of the producers in the region. "The Commonwealth of the Municipalities of the Tropic have invited us to meetings and we're working on the automation of production. We have projects that came out of the productive summit which were approved by our President," he said.
New customs policy
According to Conde, the economic policies implemented by the president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, did not affect the production sector.
"Customs have only implemented one new system, it's called Sumi and we've conducted workshops with customs in Chapare so that producers know about it," he said.
He highlighted the good relations between the Argentine and Bolivian authorities to manage policies for the banana production sector. "Regarding exports, our presidents and countries have had a good relationship," he said.
He said Bolivia supplied 30 percent of Argentina's banana demand, while Ecuador accounted for another 30 percent, and Paraguay for 10 percent. Bolivia also exports bananas to other markets, but in smaller volumes.