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A.E.B.E marks a milestone in exports.

By the hand of Marianela Ubilla Mendoza.

By Alberto Coral for People & Business

The Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador, AEBE, is an organization that was created in 1999 by a group of banana-producing businessmen that currently represents more than 70% of exports, participating competitively and sustainably in the banana industry. sector that generates economic income to the country. AEBE was founded by a group of farmers who became the key to a door that would look to the international market as a way to introduce their product and grow business.

Costatrading, Excelban, Exportadora Bananera Noboa S.A., Rey Banano del Pacífico and Unión de Bananeros Ecuatorianos, were the pioneers of AEBE. The contributions of engineers Alfredo Montalvo, Jorge Álex Serrano, Fabricio Espinosa and currently Marianela Ubilla Mendoza, have managed to maintain with social responsibility a successful organization that is internationally part of the main banana producers in the world. At present, AEBE continues to increase its number of partners with 44 main partners, representing 70% of Ecuador's exportable offer, and 47 adherents, thus having representatives throughout the supply chain.

We focus our gaze on the President of AEBE, Agronomist Marianela Ubilla Mendoza, graduated from the School of Agriculture of the Tropical Humid Region of the Earth University of Costa Rica, the first woman to represent this sector who for the last 21 years has worked hand hand in hand with the public sector and its associates, to obtain the greatest improvements for the entire banana sector, promoting fair competition and trust among the main actors in the export chain.

How does it feel to be the first woman to represent AEBE in 21 years of its founding? I have received it with great responsibility and gratitude to the partners who have entrusted me with this position. Also, a recognition to my parents who trusted me and my sisters to continue their work of years. I have to point out that the presence of women in the banana business is neither new nor an exception. There are women who are also leading successful export companies, who have been in school for decades and who, in the pandemic, demonstrated their ability to solve logistics, administration and personnel problems. I am sure that the presence of women will continue to be highly significant in AEBE.

What are the active partners? They are all those whose main line of business is the export of bananas.

The adherents? They are those companies that belong to the value chain: cardboard, plastic, assistance, logistics, shipping, ports, sprayers, financial sector.

What is the percentage in terms of exports of those that make up AEBE, that is, the active partners? AEBE has large producers and exporters that, in total, could represent 70% of the fruit's commercialization.

And the percentage of adherents?The adherent partners, as previously mentioned, are those actors in the banana value chain. They do not directly export the fruit, but they provide the inputs for its commercialization and production.

How does AEBE measure the production of its partners? 113,212,452 tons of bananas are produced throughout the world per year. India is the world's largest banana producer with a production volume of 29,124,000 tons per year. China ranks second with an annual production of 13,324,337 tons. Ecuador is in fifth place with a production that encourages us to continue working for its production and its growth in the market.

How do you statistically manage the production of your partners? AEBE has a team dedicated to information management and performs it for the entire industry. This, by compiling data from official sources regarding commercialization in order to know destination markets, growth and participation. On the other hand, we have an internal process to estimate the production itself, which we carry out with the help and cooperation of our partners. We also have cooperation agreements with important associations in countries such as Colombia and Costa Rica and with a research center in France. With the help of all these actors we can have a clear idea of what the marketing and production landscape is.

How do you analyze or study the incursion of the product for new markets? It can be said with total security that for Ecuadorian bananas there is no concept of new markets. According to the foreign trade report of the Central Bank of Ecuador, as of February 2021 we reached 60 countries located in the five continents of the planet, and Ecuador is the only country capable of doing so, due to its level of exports and the quality of the fruit, which allows you to keep it despite having to cover great distances such as China, which are more than a month.

We reach areas as complex as the Persian Gulf countries, where we compete with the Philippines, which despite not having to cross the Suez Canal, its export volume does not satisfy the requirements of this market. In other cases, we reach countries, where the fruit is redirected to others, as is the case of shipments to Turkey that follow Iran, Iraq, Syria and ex-Soviet countries. Therefore, each exporter does its study to go to a new market where there are already other Ecuadorian exporters or they decide to specialize or consolidate in a market.

The opportunities of new businesses and new niches, do you give a percentage to AEBE? It does refer to a monetary aspect in no way.

Does AEBE strategically have external partners? Yes. A particular case is ATREVIA, which gives us its support in a very important market such as the European Union, where important issues are being defined regarding sustainability, fair competition and where as a country we must consolidate ourselves.

In the XVII Edition of the 2020 International Convention, how many countries participated directly and how many indirectly? That amount reached 54 countries that participated directly.

The most important achievement of this convention is based on? The fact that 2,000 people attended digitally is an achievement due to the situation that occurred during 2020, if we see it compared to other similar ones that were canceled. The other achievement is that the international community was able to realize the reaction capacity of our sector and its entire value chain, to maintain the production and export operation that was paralyzed for a single day. In addition, in the face of the contingency, the sector kept the jobs, fulfilling our social responsibilities, paying the living wage; To which was added, a coincidence of criteria between the associations of producers and exporters, that it is time for the international market to recognize a fair price for the bananas we produce, highlighting that importers and supermarkets must share the responsibility of the business sustainability.

Did this convention generate any commercial expectations, and internationally? Business of close to USD10 million was generated.

Let's talk about trade agreements.

Within the negotiations that the government has promoted and proposed to the sector, what have been