EC$80m loss to banana industry
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Windward Islands bananas industry could suffer losses estimated at EC$80 million (US$29.6 million) over the next six months following the devastation to the sector caused by Hurricane Tomas last month, according to a senior official of the marketing and export company, WINFRESH.
Director of Technical Support Dr Errol Reid said that exports to the international market could drop by at least 40 000 tonnes, for the remainder of the year, representing approximately 20 per cent of the exports for the 2010.
“That represents production that will not be available for the rest of the year. It’s a substantial loss which will last at least for the next six months, well into 2011.
“At the Windwards level we are looking at EC$70 (US$25.9 million) to EC$80 million year per year of money earned by the islands, over 70 per cent of which would come from St. Lucia.”
Reid said that bananas from St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia, the two islands affected by the passage of the storm, are among the preferred fruit by British consumers.
Agriculture Minister Ezekiel Joseph has said that it could be another eight months before the banana industry becomes viable.
“As a country, we may be able to export bananas in May or June, 2011,” said Joseph.
“If there is need for total rehabilitation as a ministry we believe that we should capitalise on the opportunity for us to produce during a period when WINFRESH and the UK market has the demand for the product.
“So whilst there are a lot of sad stories, there are opportunities for us as a country to capitalise on what is happening right now,” he added. (CMC)