by MARVIN S. BARQUERO

Banana growers expect a strong upturn in the industry this year, which will lead to an estimated harvest of 107 million boxes of 18 kilos each.

The rise, which may reach up to 23%, would be very significant, especially as the sector comes off a bad year. Costa Rica only exported 87 million boxes in 2009.

The expectation of the rebound is due to an improvement in climatic conditions and greater care of the plantations.

Also affecting this are the result of research that helps increase productivity per area and the entry into force of the agreement to start tariffs in the fall on the fruit in the 27 countries of the European Union (EU).

According to the National Banana Corporation (Corbana), productivity will increase from a national average of 2043 boxes per hectare per year in 2009 to about 2,380 boxes per hectare per year at present.

The industry estimates were met in the first two months of 2010, as the value of fruit exports increased by 28% compared with same period of 2009, according to figures from the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer).

In the first two months of 2009, exports reached $96 million (this year in the same period, to $ 123 million), according to Procomer.

Translation and editing by TCRN Staff