The strong eruption of Ecuador’s Sangay volcano on September 20, 2020, has covered tens of thousands of hectares of banana production under a carpet of ash.
And the explosion ejected so much ash that it turned the day into night across the province of Chimborazo in Ecuador.
According to exporter association Acorbanec, around 55,000ha of banana plantation have been affected. “We estimate that this will lead to a 25% fall in the weekly exportable offer from the affected farms for at least a month,” Richard Salazar told Fruitnet.
Sangay volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and one of Ecuador’s most active ones. Since June, it has registered very high levels of activity.
In the last days, the strongest eruption occurred on Sunday morning, with ash continuing to fall until Monday night.
Juan José Pons, coordinator of a group of four grower-exporter associations known as the banana cluster, said that areas such as Naranjito, El Triunfo, in Guayas, and Mata de Cacao (Babahoyo), Los Ríos, are among the most affected.
“The ash shower interrupts the proper ripening process of the banana, so now the workers in the field will have to do a more meticulous job to avoid the loss of product,” he explained to El Comercio.
Ecuador exported 260.64m boxes of bananas between January and August 2020, an increase of 8.45 per cent on 2019.
Shipments to the European Union were up 12.47 per cent compared with the same period last year, while exports to the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa increased by 18.99 per cent, 32.75 per cent and 28.10 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, explosive activity continues at Sangay volcano. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Washington warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 21000 ft (6400 m) altitude or flight level 210 on September 24, 2020.