Jamaica ruled out imported bananas despite shortage

Government has ruled out the possibility of importing bananas despite the expected shortage brought on by the passage of Hurricane Sandy.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Donovan Stanberry said Jamaica would be at risk of importing diseases that could infect the local banana crop if the fruit were to be imported at this time.

"We cannot allow the importation of fresh green bananas because we have done well in controlling black sigatoka and other important banana diseases and we cannot risk compromising that by importing banana," Stanberry told the Jamaica Observer last Friday.

The black sigatoka is a devastating fungal disease that destroys banana leaves and reduces crop yield.

The permanent secretary said in order for banana importation to be approved a pest risk analysis would have to be done to ensure no diseases are being brought into Jamaica with the imported produce.

The eastern parishes of Portland, St Mary and St Thomas, which were hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, happen to be the main banana-producing parishes in the island.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke is expected to announce a special loan facility to help banana farmers get back into production, Stanberry disclosed.

Smaller farmers who are unable to qualify for the loans because of collateral requirements will be assisted with fertiliser and other inputs, he said.

Source: www.jamaicaobserver.com

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