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BERU urges greater local use of Bananas

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Thursday, March 17, 2005 - The Banana Emergency Recovery Unit (BERU) will be amplifying its activities to encourage greater local interest in the fruit. Program Manager, Hilary LaForce said besides BERU’s mandate to improve efficiency and productivity of banana farms, the unit was also concerned about the marketing of St. Lucia’s bananas.

He said St. Lucia needed to find alternatives in the event it was unable to competitively market its bananas to the traditional markets, when the new regime comes into effect in 2006: “We are saying locally, we need to get our people to eat more bananas, and that can redound to the benefit of the farmers, who can then produce not only for the regional and overseas markets, but for the local market. And what a better way to start but by having school children begin to use the fruit as a fresh fruit, as well as in the preparation of various dishes”.

Mr. LaForce said BERU’s sponsorship of the Home Economics secondary school food finals, which was held on the Derek Walcott Square on Wednesday, was another means of getting school children to acquire the taste of bananas as a healthy food. During the food competition bananas was used as the main ingredient.

Meanwhile, BERU is planning to host the island’s first Banana Festival slated for 2006. The festival is seen as another channel to share information on the versatility of bananas.

“Experiments have been carried out with the use of bananas through the stem to produce paper as well as rope. So there is some effort and some work being done in that regard. We intend to continue to basically promote the use of the fruit and the whole plant for the processing of various products. In the future, we would want to work with the manufacturing people in that regard”, Mr. LaForce said.

Mr. LaForce said in producing for the local market, banana farmers needed to maintain the same keenness for quality as they do for overseas markets.

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