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St. Lucia Bananas Gets EC$4.1 Million from the EU

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Contact: Primus Hutchinson

Wednesday, November 06, 2002 - Local banana farmers affected by the passage of Tropical Storm Lili are soon to be the benefactors of a financial package of over 4 Million EC dollars from the European Union.

Representatives of the European Union (EU), banana companies, technical groups, The Banana Emergency Recovery Unit (BERU) and government officials including the Agriculture Minister, met Tuesday with Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony to witness the official signing of the document for providing emergency financial assistance to local banana farmers affected by Lili.

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony indicated that the purpose of the initiative is to rehabilitate and restore and enhance banana farms to their previous production level before the Lili devastation. As a result of this project, Prime Minister Anthony outlined a number of activities to be taken.

Among them are the provision of short term support in the form of inputs to affected farmers which include NPK fertilizer, Urea fertilizer and herbicides and the preparation and implementation of promotional programmes for the purpose of sensitizing banana farmers to the importance of the use of crop insurance coverage by all farmers.

Among the results expected from this intervention will be stability in banana production. Banana farmers will also benefit from direct relief so as to assist in the rehabilitation of their farms, in an endeavour to boost their continued confidence in the industry. “Farmers will be sensitized to the benefits of crop insurance coverage and the proper understanding of the protocol will be fostered , so that we can comply with the requirements of the EU market place” Prime Minister Anthony said.

Head of the EU delegation, Ambassador John Caloghirou has called for the modernisation of production techniques if Caribbean producers are to penetrate these markets. He added that as a result of the emerging situation in the international market the tightening of the standard of quality is imperative.

Ambassador Caloghirou reiterated the importance for Caribbean banana producers to concentrate on competing on extremely high quality. “The Caribbean bananas are known for their particular taste, for their particularly quality, for their particular characteristics and if people are going to be expecting to be paid a little bit more for their bananas ,then we have to ensure that these kinds of standards and qualities are actually in place” Ambassador said.

The Emergency Assistance programme will be manage by the office of the Director of Agricultural Services while a special implementation unit will take responsibility for the daily management of the project. Technical assistance will be facilitated by the extension division of the Ministry of Agriculture, BERU and WIBDECO.

The Crop insurance company Ltd. WINCROP will provide technical guidance to farmers on the importance of crop insurance coverage.


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