Banana: Côte d’Ivoire confirms its status as African leader

The Ivorian banana industry remains on a positive note despite the crisis, retaining its position as the leading African producer.

Present this month at a capacity building workshop on the national export strategy (SNE), Fadiga Kaladji, director of foreign trade at the Ivorian Ministry of Trade, quoted by the AIP agency, confirmed that despite the coronavirus pandemic, the West African country remains the leading continental banana producer and the seventh worldwide.

In fact, although the final results of Ivorian banana exports in 2020 have yet to be communicated, the first partial data show an increase in Ivorian supply to the European market during the first four months of last year. A reduction in orders was then noted, due to the paralysis of maritime transport linked to the containment measures.

A « setback » which, for the time being, does not call into question the good performance of the Ivorian banana industry. The latter has seen its production grow steadily in recent years: from 300,000 tons in 2015, the volume has been increased to 450,000 tons in 2019, for a turnover of 145 billion CFA francs (221 million euros). Better still, « with (export) volumes 11% higher than the averages, Côte d’Ivoire has been able to compensate for Cameroon’s chronic deficit and Ghana’s lack of fruit, » recalls CIRAD’s specialized journal Fruitrop.

The only problem is the increasingly fierce competition from Latin America (Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, etc.) on the European Union market, the main outlet for the Ivorian banana industry (80% of volumes sold). This is due to unbeatable selling prices, which Ivorian (and African) producers are finding it very difficult to match. In 2020, a kilogram of Ivorian banana was trading at around 650 CFA francs (about 1 euro), while bananas from Ecuador cost half that. This is a real threat to a sector that contributes 3% of Ivorian GDP and provides a living for nearly 45,000 people, including nearly 10,000 direct jobs.