Thursday, June 09, 2005 - As stakeholders involved in the banana industry
brought the curtains down Thursday on a two-day strategic review of the
industry, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony
has been offering some words of advice on the way forward.
Dr. Anthony says despite the many changes taking place in the industry, that are
in most cases beyond farmers and other local industry officials control, all was
not lost for the banana industry in the Windward Islands. He says a priority is
for the various banana companies operating on the island to be honest with
farmers and to fully sensitizing them about the challenges that lie ahead.
On the diplomatic front Dr. Anthony says Ambassador His Excellency Edwin Laurent
was leading a charge to bring the concerns of small island states before the
European Union (EU), the World trade Organization (WTO) and other mega trading
blocs. However Dr. Anthony says the battle must first be won on a domestic
He says greater collaboration must exist among stakeholders, for the benefit of
banana farmers. Government he says is committed to the industry and will
continue to support through of the Banana Industry Trust (BIT), the Banana
Emergency Recovery Unit (BERU) and others, intervention programmes for the
Government’s assistance he says continues in the areas of irrigation and
drainage of banana fields. According to Dr. Anthony, “Using funds from the
European Union (EU) we have been able to install irrigation facilities at
Mabouya, Roseau, Cul De Sac, Troumasse and other areas..” He says, “These
facilities will allow us to deal with the age old problem of seasonal peaks and
drops in production that prevents us from reaping maximum benefits from the
industry.” He says the challenge now was to persuade farmers to make use of the
irrigation system to improve their yields.
Government he says will provide additional funds for the purchase of fertilizers
and other vital inputs. “This government will make available a further sum of $3
million dollars to the Banana Industry Trust (BIT) for the procurement of
fertilizers, which will then, be sold to bona-fide EUREP-GAP certified farmers,
with a grace repayment period of six months.” The programme is expected to be
instituted by 1st September, 2005.
A long serving non-profit entity the St. Lucia Agriculturalists Association will
have responsibility for the distribution of fertilizer to farmers. Farmers will
be issued with vouchers by the Banana Emergency Recovery Unit which will be
redeemed for fertilizer from the Agriculturalist Association.