It`s one of the main cultivation in Costa Rica. - The banana cultivating started in 1878 (the first 360 stems were shipped to New Orlean) (thus Costa Rica became the first Central American nation to plant bananas). The finishing of
atlantic railway in 1890 made the banana export boom. It atracted foreign capital. Minor C. Keith gained possession of 324.000 ha of land along the trailway and paid the trailway buildings
for the incomes from banana plantations. In exchange he took over the nation`s debt to cutthroat British bankers in 1883. (In the period 1883 - 1889 export of bananas increased from 100.000 stems to more than a million). In 1889 he merged his company with the Boston Fruit Company and formed the giant United Fruit Company. At the beginning of XX
century they caught up the coffee in economic incomes.
In the early 1900`s the United Fruit Company expanded banana plantations around Sixaola river. The "banana land: spreads from the village Bri-Bri to the border of Sixaola. The road is lined on both sides with acres of bananas trees.
In 1911, Costa Rica
became the world`s largest producer of that crop. Banana plantations workers salaries surpassed in 25 % the
minimum salaries in the country.Today the banana trading
belongs to three big companies: Standard Fruit Comp, Chiquita and Dole. 1920`s, 1930`s Many strikes of ports, banana plantations
and mines workers, inspired by communists were being breaking out.
In 1929, a 19-years old student Manuel Mora Valverde
organized the Bloc of Workers and Peasants. By the end of 1939 Block had gained
control over important sectors of the labour movement, including Spanish
speaking banana plantation laborers. The party organized a 1934 strike that shut
down the nation`s banana production and forced United Fruit to equalize wages
paid to to Jamaican and Costa Rican workers.
In 1938 banana companions made up a decision about moving
plantations to the pacific coast (around Quepos and Golfito). It was because the Sigatoka leaf-spot. (Nevertheless the first bananas were sent for export from Golfito in 1928).
They thrive until 1978, when Panamian disease destroyed banana crops and many plantations were replaced with african oil palms.
In 1956 Standard Fruit Company began production with export beginning in 1959. It closed down the operations in 1985 following rising costs and a 72-day strike in 1984 that cost the company $12 million in lost production.
Atlantic coast banana plantations took off once more producing an estimated 75 million boxes of bananas and generating $440,9 million for the local economy in 1991. In 1994 450 million boxes were produced.
In 1992 Holland-based second International Tribunal on Water condemned Standard Fruit Company for "severly polluting the eastern region of the country". That same year, the Labor Ministry accused 10 banana companies of violating national labor law by paying substandard wages and refusing to pay overtime. The previous month the Banana Union had accused multinationals of hiring some 12.000 illegal workers, who are paid less than the minimum wage. ((In 1992 banana export earnings - $482,9 mln surpassed tourism incomes).
Problems with quotas. United Europe designed the quotas to ensure that EE members state`s former colonies won`t have their banana industry hurt by competition from the huge plantation run in Central America by multinational corporacions. In 1995 UE quotes forced Costa Rica to divert 8 million boxes from EU nations to other markets, resulting in a drop of price. In 1994 Chiquita cancelled its contract with DISFRUSA S.A. Because Costa Rica has accepted the controversial quotas mandated by the UE. (According to that Costa Rica was granted a quota of 23,4% of all bananas imported into Europe from Latin America). The nation had won two appeals to GATT but the UE refused to lift the quotas. The US multinational opposition to the quotas appear in US quotas placed on textiles, sugar and beef imports from Costa Rica.
Today they are cultivated in Estrella and Matina valleys, lowland of Santa Clara, in the area of Sixaola river and in parts of south-west. 2/3 of all bananas are exported by BANDECO (Del Monte) and Standard Fruit Company (Dole). The ripening fruits are wrapped in blue plastic bags which are impregnated with incecticide. Many of the bags are washed out to the sea, where marine turtles mistake them for jellyfish and choke. That`s why to avoid it, near Siquirres was constructed in 1994 the nation largest plastic recycling facility. Another threat for environment is caused by fertilizers that are washed out to sea and destroy much of the coral reefs. In other side, pesticides such as DBCP, banned in North America have poisoned plantation workers...
Workers handle a large bunches, cut bananas off the stalks, sort, wash them and put into boxes. Bananas that are not acceptable by exacting specifications form fermenting mountains, next to the sorting area. They are used for animal feed, or as vinegar compresses (remedy for sprained muscles). Banana plantations produce around 50 million boxes of bananas per year,
making Costa Rica the second biggest exporter of bananas in the world behind
Ecuador. In 1998 Costa Rica produced 115 millions boxes with an export value of $670 million of dollars Around 150.000 ha were planted. The developed export countries expect that bananas will have no spot.Crisis of 1980`s. Low taxes of bananas.
For tourists is offered a travelling by the "banana train". Travellers are taken to lowlands by bus and then puts them on the train through some banana plantations around Guapiles.
On July 2001 in order to prevent the expansion of the banana plant disease known as black sigatoka, 1,000 hectares of plantations were destroyed in the South Pacific area of Costa Rica.
In the 2002 first quarter Costa Rica banana export increased 2,5% higher as compared to the same period last year.
The government will create a trust fund to protect from bancrupcy independent banana plantations larger than 17.000 ha. To finanse the trust it`s expected to sell up to 75 $ million in bonds. (VIII. 2002)