Last year, Costa Rica produced some 105 million boxes of banana (18.14kg each box), in a total of 42,650 hectares.

If taken into account that the value per hectare in 2011 was $15,000, it can be concluded that banana producers received $639,840,000 for their harvest, the majority of it destined to the international market.

This is according to José Renato Saalfeld, nutrition specialist and manager for the company Colono Agropecuario.

These calculations show that the banana is one of the agricultural activities that brings most money to producers in Costa Rica. First is the pineapple.

The price for each banana box is fixed by law – $7.69 for first quality fruit.

During 2010, when production reached 101.2 million boxes, the average production was 2,303 boxes per hectare per year, a number that differs according to the farm.

The country has about 180 banana farms, the majority in the Caribbean area. In fact, 97% of the harvest is in this region, in the cantons of Pococí, Siquirres, Matina, Guácimo, Limón and Talamanca.

Among the banana producers that obtained more product in 2010 are the Compañía Agrícola Ganadera Cariari (2.2 million boxes), Biotecnología Bananera de Costa Rica (2.28 million), Valle de la Estrella (4.1 million), Río Frío (2.2 million) and Sixaola (2.5 million).

According to Jorge Sauma, executive director for the National Banana Corporation (Corbana), 85% of the total production is exported and the remaining stays in the local market to be sold as fresh fruit or to make other sub-products.

The executive said that closing projections for 2011 estimate exports for a value of $785 million.

Even if in 2010 more hectares were harvested and the productivity was raised in the last year and this year, as Sauma said, the industry expects to grow in amounts due to a bigger profits per hectare. There are no expectations regarding the rise of harvested area, that Corbana calculated to be around 43,500 hectares.

From one year to the next one, productivity grew around 100 boxes per hectare.

As expected since Costa Rica is the third world exporter of banana and, despite pineapple taking the first place as exported product, banana managed to take the place of coffee that, for many years took the lead of agricultural exports.