Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Banana production in Latin America

Although small scale banana production has existed in Latin America such the sixteenth century and banana were first exported to foreign markets in the nineteenth, the last hundred years have been the century for bananas in many parts of Latin America.

Bananas were produced entirely by small peasant farmers up to the 1880s. By 1880s, however, large scale banana production had begun.

Initially this was nor undertaken by the traditional planters but throughout the Americas, the introduction of commercial banana cultivation involved daunting tasks from entrepreneurs, engineers and workers of the late nineteenth century.

The history of bananas in Latin America is tightly intertwined with the history of the United Fruit Company, The United fruit Company, which was incorporated in 1899, owned or leased 3.5 million acres in Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama,, Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominion Republic, Colombia and Ecuador.

Ecuador entered the banana trade in 1910. The country did not become a significant exporter of bananas in the world market, however until after World War II when Ecuador turned to bananas to fill the void left by the 1920 collapse of its cacao industry.

The rise of bananas as an export crop also ended Guatemala dependency on coffee.

Honduras was the first Latin American country to be known as a banana republic due to the more than 60% share of bananas in Honduras exports and the increasingly influential role of the banana companies at the beginning of the 20th century.

Honduras was the leading exporters of bananas between the 1870s and 1970s, has been considered by many observers to be banana republic par excellence.

Innovations during the 1970s, for example the substitution of Gros Michel by Cavendish varieties, the boxing of bananas and overhead cableways for fruit transport, resulted in lowering production costs, an expansion in production and decreasing world prices.
Banana production in Latin America

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