Farmers’ Delight


The expansion of agricultural sector goods is in line with the government’s diversification and improved trade balance priorities. In 2014, Ecuador continued to enact new regulations intended to support its […]

The expansion of agricultural sector goods is in line with the government’s diversification and improved trade balance priorities. In 2014, Ecuador continued to enact new regulations intended to support its agriculture sector and uphold price controls to insulate farmers from global competition. Additional reforms aim to clamp down on informal and spot market activity. For example, in February 2014, banana plantation registration restrictions came into effect in an effort to thwart fraud. Ecuador has realized the need to balance market activity with environmental considerations in order to promote sustainable growth. The government intervened in its tuna fishing market twice during 2014 to impose trade bans and allow wild populations to rebound.

Food labeling regulation was another policy area that was updated over the past year. State law now requires more detailed information concerning fat, sugar, and salt content. Foods containing known carcinogens are to be labeled as well.


The past year has been eventful in regard to Ecuador’s sales of bananas, the country’s most iconic commodity crop. At the end of 2013, banana farmers faced the prospects of sector stagnation due to rising production costs. However, increasing global demand has enabled Ecuador to increase its banana exports in several key markets during 2014.

Algeria, the UK, Turkey, and the Netherlands all upped their 1Q2014 imports in YoY terms for the same period. In the first five months of the year, exports to China boomed by 540.77% as China’s domestic production figures dropped off. In September, China imported 300,000 boxes of Ecuadorean bananas per week, and that number is set to increase even further. The Western regime of sanctions against Russia has also presented Ecuador with significant export opportunities. In July 2014, over 4 million boxes of bananas were shipped to Russia, compared to 3 million in 2013. That same month, Ecuador and the EU concluded years of negotiations by signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that guarantees Ecuador’s $630 million in annual banana exports to members of the economic bloc.

The surge in global demand in 2014 was mirrored by an uptick in prices. In August, box prices for bananas Free On Board (FOB) rose as high as $14.50. In 2013, average prices for boxes FOB ranged between $8.50 and $9.50. The government has also been working to further regulate the banana market by imposing price controls, reducing spot market activity, and reforming plantation registration to combat fraud.


Cocoa beans, another of Ecuador’s key cash crops, has experienced dramatic growth in production as well. Despite battling an outbreak of Witches’ Broom fungal disease in 2013, the cocoa-bean harvest increased 13%. This raised cocoa output to 220,000 tons and made Ecuador Latin America’s largest cocoa producer, with a over 399,467 planted hectares. Eager to cash in on rising chocolate prices, the government embarked on farmer education initiatives and increased the rate of planting. As a result, the country is expected to increase its cocoa exports by 10% in 2014.

In 2013, Ecuador’s departure from the Adean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), which ended US/Ecuadorean preferential trade tariffs, brought into question cocoa export capacities. Regardless of the speculation however, the country’s cocoa sector future looks bright. Today, Ecuador is on track to become the world’s fourth largest cocoa supplier in 2015, and could surge should West African exports come under threat.

Rice exports are set to increase even more throughout the 2014-2015 period. While rice-crop diversification is expected to boost milled rice cultivation from 767,000 tons to 787,000 tons, a 3% increase in production, exports are forecast to grow 16%. Rice is among the crops targeted by the government’s price controls, which are promoted through the Andean Price Band System (APBS). According to APBS standards, the minimum price per ton is set at $575, while the maximum price per ton is $691. Additionally, the APBS levies a 68% duty on rice imports, although Andean Community members are exempt from the charge.

Corn production, which leads Ecuador’s crop farming in total cropped area, is another agricultural subsector that has received government assistance in recent years. The Maize Production Support Program, initiated in 2012, provides farmers with quality seed, technical assistance, and minimum price guarantees in order to promote the country’s self-sufficiency in this core crop. With the backing of the support program, maize production has been on the rise.

At the end of 2013, Ecuador produced a record 1.1 million metric tons of corn. In 2014, the growth rate fell by 4.09%, but production managed to remain well above the million-ton mark. The majority of corn consumption in Ecuador is driven by demand for animal feed, while a relatively small portion is consumed per individual.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s sugar farmers have been increasing their stocks in an effort to insulate themselves from the impacts of currency value volatility. Overall, however, sugarcane has continued to develop as a staple crop for Ecuador’s agricultural sector. FAS Quito predicts that Ecuador will produce 615,000 metric tons of sugar for the 2014/2015 marketing year. This would represent a 6.5% increase from the 2013/2014 marketing year.


As Ecuador looks to diversify its economy, a number of other commodity crops are tracking high growth figures too. Among these goods is palm oil, which is quickly becoming one of the country’s primary agricultural engines. In 2014, palm oil production is forecast to climb by as much as 25,000 tons, from 495,000 to 520,000 tons, while exports may trend upward from 213,000 tons to 225,000 tons. In 2013, Ecuador exported 55% of its produced palm oil, generating $300 million in revenues. “In Ecuador, the volume of oil available for export is increasing annually, as the industry is growing at a rate of 7% per year. We forecast the industry doubling again over the next 10 years,” Francisco Naranjo, Executive Director of the National Association of Palm Oil Cultivators, told TBY in an exclusive interview.

Palm oil plantations now total 280,000 hectares, which is an even larger area than the 240,000 hectares of Ecuador’s banana plantations. Overall, 87% of these plantations are smallholdings, where 6,000 of Ecuador’s 7,000 palm oil farmers operate on areas of 50 acres or less. The development of the sector is, therefore, limited by the access of farmers to resources and technical know-how. Despite these constraints, palm oil has accounted for 15% of agricultural GDP and supported 170,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly, since the end of 2013.

You may also be interested in...


Ecuador Fighting Crime

How is the country improving policing and security?

View More

Telecoms & IT

Catalytic technologies for business growth

Cloud and cybersecurity

View More


Latin America MICE Tourism

COVID-19 and Work Travel

View More


Ecuador’s Banana Trade

COVID-19 and Disruption

View More

Energy & Mining

COVID-19 in Ecuador

The Future of Mining

View More

Telecoms & IT

4G Connectivity 2021

Telecommunications & Technology

View More


Invest Ecuador Tourism

Flight Connectivity and FDI

View More


Ecuador’s Mining Boom

Major Deposits Promise Riches

View More
View All Articles