St Lucia’s banana industry rebounds
CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) – St Lucia exported 5 000 tonnes of bananas to the United Kingdom so far this year as the island battles to deal with the dreaded Black Sigatoka disease that had destroyed a number of farms.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Production and Fisheries said that the record export was also significant, given that the crop had taken a battering from the passage of Hurricane Tomas and the 2013 Christmas Eve trough that caused widespread damage and death.
It said that the exports to the United Kingdom were due “largely to continuing government support to battle disease, provision of fertilizers and active cooperation between agriculture officers and the island’s remaining banana farmers.
“Grenada, in comparison, is virtually completely out of production for export, while Dominica and St Vincent & the Grenadines haven’t been able to produce enough to export continuously,” the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.
It said bananas were once regarded as ‘Green Gold’ in the four Windward Islands, but the preferential treatment afforded to the islands disappeared on the European market, due mainly to competition from Latin America and a ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The Ministry gave no figures as to the income derived from the sale of the fruit in Europe this year.