Plátanos de Canarias

plátano de canarias – insights into the latest podcast episode of “Food for europe”

Why is the Plátano de Canarias PGI so important for the local economy in the Canary Islands? What exactly is a ‘Protected Geographical Indication,’ or PGI, and how does it assist local farmers on the islands? How does the European School Scheme for fruit and vegetables fit into this topic?

These are all questions discussed in the latest episode of the podcast ‘Food for Europe’, created by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. The podcast aims to shed light on the most crucial European policies for food and agriculture and discuss ambitions to make Europe greener and more sustainableJohn Dale Beckley and our Canary Green Team assisted in helping with this podcast episode. So keep reading for insights into the podcast, and listen to the whole episode here:

Plátano de Canarias: Not like any other banana

In this episode, the podcast travels to our beautiful Canary Islands to discover a product deeply integrated into Canarian culture and economy: Plátano de Canarias. You might think that the Plátanos grown on the Canary Islands are just like any other banana, but don’t be mistaken: the Plátano de Canarias is far from being ‘just like the others’, and the podcast tells us why.

During an interview with Santiago Rodríguez Pérez, a second-generation farmer from the south of Tenerife, we discover that agricultural work on plátanos here in Tenerife didn’t start until the 1960s. Today there are around 8,000 small farmers like Santiago on the islands, all making a living through the cultivation of the Plátano de Canarias. 

Santiago explains why the Plátano de Canarias is so special: if you look at Latin America, where a high percentage of the world’s bananas are cultivated, you’re looking at a tropical region, meaning it’s hot and humid all year round. This is the perfect condition for the banana to grow fast and big. While the Canary Islands have the right temperature, they are located in a subtropical, much dryer region, meaning the plátanos take much longer to develop and also have a different shape. Linked to that is the fact that the Canaries are volcanic islands. The volcanic soil, therefore, gives the Plátano de Canarias a particular taste, unlike any other banana in the world. Here on the Canary Islands, the local Plátano de Canaria is called ‘plátano,’ while the bananas cultivated elsewhere in the world are called ‘banana.’

Protected Geographical Indications: PGI

Due to the uniqueness of the Plátanos, they also face some challenges, such as the struggle with sufficient water supplies and higher costs compared to countries in Africa and Latin America. The Plátano sector in the Canaries is known for its good social conditions for farmers and producers. Nevertheless, this makes it even harder to compete with other countries when it comes to costs and prices: the banana is a product that internationally has maintained its price for the last ten years, but due to costs skyrocketing in the EU, it is almost impossible for the Canarian Plátano sector to keep up. Without European Aid, this sector would basically disappear. The EU helps to maintain the exclusivity of the Plátano de Canarias through their system of GIs: Geographical Indications.

In short: What are Geographical indications?

  • GIs are the names of foods and drinks that have certain qualities or characteristics linked to factors present in the area where they are produced.
  • For the Plátano de Canarias, these factors include, for example, the volcanic soil and the subtropical regions.
  • In practice, this means that if we were to produce the exact same product in another region, characteristics like taste would not be the same: the banana in Latin America is different from the Plátano here.
  • Through the GI, consumers can recognize the authenticity and quality of a product.
  • The Canarian Plátanos are the only variety of bananas with this protection.

The producers’ association Asprocan (Asociación de Organizaciones de Productores de Plátanos de Canarias) plays a vital role in the industry: the association’s manager, Sergio Cáceres, explains how it represents the interests and needs of local farmers on all six islands. It is also in charge of advertising the Plátano de Canarias as an export product, thereby helping to preserve the added value of the Plátano. By showcasing how special the Plátano is, consumers are willing to pay a higher price for this high-quality product.

EU School Scheme for fruit and Vegetables

María Nieves Hernández Velázquez, director of the school CEIP Los Cristianos, talks about the EU-funded school scheme for fruit and vegetables. The scheme enables member states to distribute local products, especially GI products, to students. For the students of the CEIP school, this means getting locally produced Plátano de Canarias, but also tomatoes, watermelon, oranges, papayas, and much more. According to María, healthy minds and bodies are fueled by the right food choices. In general, the scheme aims to promote the consumption of fruits and veggies by children, preventing them from becoming obese and suffering from connected diseases. The scheme started in the Canary Islands in 2009. María also highlights that the school believes in the value and richness of ‘0 km’ products, meaning products that basically don’t have a transportation route from farm to table.

More insights from the European Commission

Aniko Németh, from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, provides more insights into GIs. She explains how GIs have significant economic implications: all the benefits they bring contribute primarily to the area of production and thus support local economies. Since Plátano production is a critical pillar of the Canarian economy and society, it is crucial to preserve it. The concept of GIs is especially significant for the outermost regions of Europe, like the Canary Islands, due to their isolation and related challenges.

Carlos Martín Óvilo, also from the Directorate-General, discusses the school scheme further. He explains how it was first introduced for milk products in the ’70s before the second scheme, focusing on fruits and vegetables, was introduced in 2007. Returning to the link between GIs and the school scheme, Carlos explains two different angles:

On one hand, the distribution of GIs implies distribution of proximate products, because normally they are sourced locally and originally, so that has already a certain social and implemental impact of the scheme, but we have also an educational objective and this objective also incorporates the need to reconnect children with our culture. And GIs are the perfect example where kids can make the link between the product, the territory, and the tradition.

Anyone interested in this project can find more information on the school scheme on the EU website. They can find the scheme divided by countries, where they can see the strategies and actions of each member state and a list of contacts.

In summary

The Plátano de Canarias PGI is an incredibly valuable product for the economy and culture of the Canary Islands. Through GIs, it is possible to value the uniqueness and exclusivity of the product, while the school scheme helps provide healthy food to children and educates them about their tradition and culture.

So, what can you do to help preserve the Plátano de Canarias? Buy and enjoy them! Whenever possible, choose Plátanos with the Plátano de Canarias logo, buy from local markets, or even visit local farmers to purchase their products. This is the best and most effective way for all of us to do our part in preserving this beautiful tradition.

connect with

Thank you

Thank you to everyone involved in this Canary Green project where our aim is to help promote sustainable tourism in the Canary Islands.

Do you want us to find you more sustainable choices? Please support us and donate today.


Connect with canary green

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Comment