PROVINCIA DE LAS PALMAS – The banana sector in the Canary Islands, once a thriving industry, is now facing a major crisis.
Agriculture in the Canary Islands has historically been a cycle of rise and fall. In the past, crops such as sugar cane, cochineal (a type of insect)*, and tobacco have experienced similar patterns. Now banana farming is facing an almost identical crisis.
Changes in agriculture
The introduction of synthetic dyes in the 19th century led to the demise of the cochineal industry, after which tomato and banana cultivation gained ground. This shift illustrates the constant evolution of the agricultural sector on the islands.
Causes of the current crisis
The crisis currently plaguing the industry is caused by a combination of factors, including increased production costs (such as labour, fertilizers, and water), climate change, and challenges in managing and commercialising the product.
In addition to internal problems, the sector is also affected by international competition. The Canary Islands bananas, although unique, compete in a market dominated by the Cavendish banana, which is grown worldwide.
The importance of banana cultivation for the local economy
Banana cultivation, together with tourism, is one of the most important economic activities in the Canary Islands. The future of banana farming is therefore crucial not only for farmers but also for the wider economy and identity of the region.
*Cochineal, a scale insect, was bred in the Canary Islands to produce a natural red dye known as carmine. This dye was widely used in the textile industry and in food and cosmetics.