The Costa Rican government helped negotiate an agreement for increased plantain production from indigenous groups in the Talamanca region in southern Limón.
The government made the announcement Tuesday, noting that the year-long agreement aimed to build a growing industry for an economically struggling region in the south Caribbean. The agreement between Talamanca farmers and Camino del Sol, an agri-business based in the interior city of Cartago, calls for a purchase of at least 15,000 kilograms of plantains per week for a year.
William Barrantes, the president of the government’s National Production Council, said the agreement will help to grow an industry that could make Costa Rica a worldwide exporter in plantains.
“If the industry in Costa Rica has a market such as North America, Europe or Asia and there are many more possibilities for demand, we can channel and plan a better product,” Barrantes said.
Barrantes said the country currently imports some plantains from places like Panama and Nicaragua.
Barrantes said the plantains will be bought at a set price above market value, though they were still negotiating the price. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported the current wholesale plantain price is approximately $113 per 1,000 kilograms. The deal could guarantee at least $618,000 in income to Talamanca farmers over the next year, according to these figures.
The Costa Rican Agriculture and Livestock Ministry reported a domestic production of 90,000 tons in 2010, the most recent data available.
Manuel Hurtado, a representative from the agricultural workers in Talamanca, said the set price was crucial to avoid the problems of past fluctuations.
“It’s a way to guarantee so much, for the producers, for the industry, from a serious commitment to protect a serious product,” Hurtado said in an interview.
Talamanca is often considered one of the poorest cantons in Costa Rica. In 2011 it had the second lowest human development index of all 81 Costa Rican cantons, according to a study from the United Nations Development Program. In 2009 Talamanca came in last.
The canton celebrated the plantain crop in a festival last Saturday.