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St. Lucia Moves to Modernise its Banana Industry

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

November 25, 1999 - In an address to the 175 member nations of the 30th Conference of the United Nations, FAO, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Dr. James Fletcher, outlined the steps being taken by the Government of Saint Lucia to modernize the banana industry and transform the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors to allow them to cope with the challenges of the global trading environment.

Dr. Fletcher appealed to the international community to take cognizance of the fact that St. Lucia's banana industry was going through a period of transition during which there was "a need for careful and delicate management of the transition to allow the industry to metamorphose into a strong, self - sufficient organism."

Dr. Fletcher stated that the Government's decision to privatize the industry and give banana farmers the latitude to manage their affairs was a manifestation of the Government's philosophy that its farmers should be given complete control of their destiny, in the same way that this freedom is granted to stakeholders in all of the other economic sectors.

In speaking on the Government's plans for agricultural diversification, the Permanent Secretary informed the conference that the Government considered farmers the most critical element of the strategy. Consequently, institutional capacity building among farmer organizations had been placed high on the list of priorities. Dr. Fletcher stated that the primary objective of the diversification programme was to promote environmentally sustainable production of commodities for which markets had been identified.


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