Amidst the ongoing challenges faced by the agricultural industry, the banana sector in the Canary Islands finds itself in a precarious position. Unlike the recent conflicts involving avocados and potatoes, the banana industry is now experiencing its own crisis. Paradoxically, improved harvesting conditions brought about by climate change have created a complex situation. While production has benefited from these conditions, banana producers are grappling with plummeting prices and continued financial losses.
Dionisio Rocha, a prominent grower and president of the Las Galletas Irrigation Community in Arona, describes the current state of affairs as an “annus horribilis,” a Latin term signifying a dreadful year marked by a series of unfortunate events. He emphasizes, “This has been the worst summer in the last thirty years,” highlighting the severity of the challenges faced by banana producers.
The predicament in the southern part of the Canary Islands, a region known for cultivation of the popular fruit, is poised to result in higher prices. This follows the trend seen with avocados and potatoes, both of which have experienced price increases in recent months.
To understand the scale of banana production in the Canary Islands, it’s essential to note that the region dispatches 500 containers of this fruit to the rest of Spain every week. Of this quantity, the Canary Islands account for nearly 25%, with Guía de Isora and Arona emerging as the undisputed leaders in banana cultivation. Rocha provides insight into the contributions of these two municipalities, with the former generating around 10% of banana production and the latter contributing 7%.
This translates to an annual yield of approximately 25 to 30 million kilograms of bananas, spread across roughly a thousand hectares of land. The majority of banana cultivation is concentrated in the La Estrella area and its surroundings, extending up to the Southern motorway.
In the past, the cultivation cycle in the Canary Islands stretched across a full year. However, rising temperatures associated with climate change have reduced the cycle’s duration to just 10 or 12 months. This shift has led to increased production, a greater supply on the market, and subsequently, a decline in prices.
Review of EU financial support for banana cultivation in the Canaries
Addressing the issue of European Union (EU) aid, Rocha suggests that Europe needs to reevaluate its support mechanisms for the this sector. The existing aid structure, which has been in place for over 20 years, is no longer adequate to sustain the industry. This deficiency has wider implications, as it impacts food prices in the Canary Islands. Rocha argues that “producers must have a guaranteed starting price to sustain themselves.” This proposal aims to address the challenges posed by global warming and rising costs due to external factors, such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
In summary, the Canary Islands’ industry is grappling with a complex set of challenges. Climate change, with its effects on production cycles, has disrupted the traditional patterns of banana cultivation. Furthermore, the industry is advocating for a reevaluation of EU aid to ensure the long-term sustainability and profitability of banana production in the region.