The eruption of Ecuador’s Sangay volcano has left around thousands of hectares of banana production under a carpet of ash.
According to exporter association Acorbanec, around 55,000ha have been affected. “We estimate that this will lead to a 25 per cent fall in the weekly exportable offer from the affected farms for at least a month,” Richard Salazar told Fruitnet.
Sangay volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and one of Ecuador's most active ones. Since June, it has registered very high levels of activity.
The latest eruption occurred on Sunday morning, with ash continuing to fall until Monday night.
Juan José Pons, coordinator of a group of four grower-exporter associations known as the banana cluster, said that areas such as Naranjito, El Triunfo, in Guayas, and Mata de Cacao (Babahoyo), Los Ríos, are among the most affected.
“The ash shower interrupts the proper ripening process of the banana, so now the workers in the field will have to do a more meticulous job to avoid the loss of product,” he explained to El Comercio.
The latest figures published by Acorbanec show that Ecuador exported 260.64m boxes of bananas between January and August 2020, an increase of 8.45 per cent on 2019. The association said this was due to a larger exportable offer and strong demand in most markets, the exceptions being the US, the Far East and Oceania.
Shipments to the European Union were up 12.47 per cent compared with the same period last year, while exports to the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa increased by 18.99 per cent, 32.75 per cent and 28.10 per cent respectively.