The government of Saint Lucia is attempting to tackle the dilemma facing banana exports to the United Kingdom. Apart from this, the Ministry of Agriculture is predicting higher production in the first half of 2019.
On Thursday December 20, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph, along with his team, met with representatives of the National Fair Trade Organization (NFTO), Banana Productivity Improvement Project, and Winfresh, to discuss the matter.
Prior to tropical storm Kirk, Winfresh had been selling 15,000 boxes of bananas per week to the UK. Alas, the projection for 2019 is more akin to 6,000 per week.
Minister Joseph said the market cut is unacceptable, adding that production of the fruit will be very high in the new year: “Moving forward we are seeing that the production will be very high in the first half of next year and the type of figures Winfresh is talking about cannot be accommodated, they have to go out there and get the markets."
"Today, the meeting was really to discuss that issue and I am happy they have understood our position as a government, and they will continue to collaborate with the NFTO to satisfy the marketing opportunities that we believe can be explored.”
Stlucianewsonline.com quoted Prime Minister Chastanet as saying: “I’m encouraging my young people to start looking at what by-products which we can use with bananas, both with bananas itself but also the leaves and stems of the banana tree. We need to earn money on every component of a banana tree, not just the banana in order to be competitive, but I know we have the capacity and the innovation to do that in Saint Lucia, and I want to reassure the banana farmers and reassure the public of Saint Lucia that its government stands firm behind the sector.”