The transport of bananas from Saint Lucia to France is not as easy as it appears. When the idea was first mooted in 2016 by the government, it appeared quite feasible. But with no registered success to date, it seems that the initiative has failed.
However, this was denied by Agriculture Minister Ezekiel Joseph at this week’s pre-Cabinet press briefing. Admitting to challenges faced in meeting that initiative at the last House of Assembly meeting, Joseph has not given up hope of local bananas entering the French market, nor will he admit to failure on the part of his government for not getting local bananas into France, close to four years after mooting the idea.
His salvation, it seems, lies in a meeting last year in the United Kingdom where a local delegation met with buyers from France who committed to an agreement with the Government of Saint Lucia. Part of that agreement involves a three-month trial exporting three containers, each containing 1000 boxes, to the French market via Winfresh.
"They (the French) were specific as to what they required from us. The purchase order clearly indicated what they would want in each box, 22 clusters and in a bag, six fingers," Joseph said.
He also said there was a first shipment to France, however, unfortunately that shipment did not meet the requirement and could not enter France although it left Saint Lucia for France via the United Kingdom.
Joseph said that it was because of the size of the banana fingers that Saint Lucia could not access the French market, because they could not pack the shipment the way the French company wanted it packed. In other words, the size of Saint Lucia's small fingers of banana was too big to meet the minimum requirement of the French market.