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Bananas: Africa forced to innovate

Loeillet D., Imbert E., Sanchez C.. 2010. In : Dubois T. (ed.), Hauser S. (ed.), Staver Charles (ed.), Coyne D. (ed.). Proceedings of the International Conference on banana and plantain in Africa : harnessing international partnerships to increase research impact, Mombasa, Kenya, October 5-9, 2008. Louvain : ISHS [Belgique], p. 169-174. (Acta Horticulturae, 879). International Conference on Banana and Plantain in Africa: Harnessing international partnerships to increase research impact, 2008-10-05/2008-10-09, Mombasa (Kenya).

African bananas (Musa spp.) account for 11% of banana consumed in European Union (EU). Only dessert bananas (AAA genome) are shipped from Africa to EU and despite Africa being a major production zone for cooking banana (AAA-EA genome) and plantain (AAB genome) exports to EU of these types originate from Latin America (60,000 t/year). In regard to dessert banana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast have long monopolized African exports to the EU but since 2006 Ghana has began exportation. A small number of groups of operators, with strong links to European importers, control export chains and achieve greater profits through this route than offered by nearby markets. African countries enjoy preferential access to the EU as part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP countries) with favorable import tariffs under the 'duty free, quota free' (DFQF) regime. Economic partnership agreements (EPAs) between African countries and the EU have removed levies of ¿176 customs/t of ACP bananas imported (~¿160 million/year) and enhanced the competitive ability of African suppliers compared to suppliers from the dollar zone. However, in view of current market deregulation in the EU, continuation of the preferential treatment will be hard to defend and the significant tariff advantage for ACP suppliers is being questioned. Furthermore one of Africa's advantages over Latin America is its closeness to the European market but this is being threatened as intermediate freight-related costs have increased considerably in recent years. As a consequence of these changes the African banana-exporting sector must improve its competitiveness to safeguard its EU market. This can be achieved through production and market innovations which are discussed in this paper.
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