Ecuador floricultural sector estimates great losses in exports due to protests

The protests led by peasants and indigenous people on October 26 and 27 wreaked havoc on the export of flowers, especially in Cayambe and Pedro Moncayo, north of Pichincha. The blockades in the internal roads of the cantons and in those that connect with Quito made difficult, and in some cases even impossible, the circulation of the trucks that had to take the flowers to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport. 

Due to obstacles, approximately half of the scheduled shipments abroad could not be fulfilled. In a normal situation, the floriculture sector exports around $3 million every day; the mobilizations against the Government, however, caused nearly $1.5 million to be lost every day, lamented Guillermo Bustamante, president of the board of the National Association of Producers and Exporters of Flowers of Ecuador (Expoflores).

“It must be taken into account that of the dollars that enter the country from exports between 55 and 60% return to the countryside in the form of wages to support the workers’ families. This is put at risk when the protests deprive us of the right to mobilize,” said Bustamante.

Downed trees, mounds of earth, large stones, vehicles, or burned tires were used by the protesters to block the passage of the roads in the two cantons that concentrate the largest production of flowers. Of the 4,900 hectares cultivated in the country, in Cayambe there are 1,060 hectares and 1,400 in Pedro Moncayo which together represent 60% of the national production, according to data from Expoflores.

The consequences of the demonstrations not only harmed the large farms - which have 20, 30 hectares of crops or more - but also the floriculturists that produce on small plots of land from half a hectare onwards.

“The small producers were the most affected, they could not move their flower to a processing center. The protests were an unnecessary blow to an industry that had already been kicking,” said Klaus Graetzer, representative of Ecuagarden and president of the Tabacundo Floriculturists Association.

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