Ecuador, the world's top banana exporter, has adopted emergency measures to protect the key industry, which accounts for one in 10 jobs in the country and is reeling from low prices due to overproduction.
"We issued an emergency alert for the banana sector for a five-week period in order to take immediate measures aimed at mitigating the current market price distortion," Agriculture Minister Stanley Vera said Thursday.
Banana output in Ecuador -- which accounts for 30 percent of world exports -- has surged from 140 million cartons in the first half of 2010 to 152 million cartons in the same period this year, while demand has waned and production increased elsewhere.
The government has set aside $15 million to buy back bananas from producers who cannot sell their stocks to exporters.
Bananas from Ecuador are sold in Russia, the Mediterranean, the Baltics, the European Union and the United States. A total of 1.4 million Ecuadorans work in the sector.