Visit to Puerto Armuelles

Abandoned Banana Industry in Chiriqui, Panama

Keith Agoada

There has been a lot of international banana news coming out of Panama the last few months. Del Monte has signed a contract with the Panama government to invest $100M+ into a new banana operation in the district of Baru.

Old Puerto Armuelle
Old Puerto Armuelle

The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela states that the program will create 3,100 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs.

A couple years before this announcement, I was in Chiriqui for a project and had a chance to visit the abandoned banana industry. It looked like a ghost town out of a coffee table book. Relics of the banana industry could be found around the port area. The small quiet town seemed to rely on fishing, collecting coconuts, and limited tourism to get by.

Abandoned Banana Rail Car, Chiriqui, Panama
Abandoned Banana Rail Car, Chiriqui, Panama

It is a beautiful port area that certainly has a lot of potential for both commercial exports, and cruise lines for tourism.

It will be interesting to see how the Del Monte conventional banana deal in Panama comes together over the next few years.

I've attached some of the photos from my visit, along with some other old-school Chiriqui, Panama banana era photos that I have found online.

Bananas in Puerto Armuelles
Bananas in Puerto Armuelles