$554 Million Allocated to Banana Support Project

The Banana Support Project in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is to receive $554 million this fiscal year, to continue its work to promote sustainable development in the traditional banana growing areas of Jamaica. This provision was made in the 2007/08 Estimates of Expenditure now before the House of Representatives.
Since February 2007, more than 664 banana and 135 plantain farmers actively resuscitated their plantations after the passage of a number of hurricanes. The industry was also able to achieve full pre-Ivan export tonnage (over 4,000 boxes per week) by July 2005, and approximately 25 per cent of pre-Dennis and Emily production levels were achieved by November 2005.
Other achievements include the cleaning and construction of approximately 30 kilometres of drains; more than 5,000 hectares of banana and plantain were sprayed; and some 185 export farms were audited for EUREGAP readiness or for compliance with export farm certification programme (FCP) standards.
In addition, the banana diversification component of the programme saw the establishment of a database system with up-to-date information on all registered banana and plantain farmers.
During the 2007/08 financial year, the programme intends to maintain the living standards of banana farmers and farm workers; and continue to address the needs of banana and plantain farmers through the Project Management and Coordination Division (PMCD) in the Ministry, in association with Banana Export Company (BECO), the former implementation agency.
The programme will also see the industry recovering to pre-Ivan levels of production for domestic use and exports; 50 farmers will be assisted in achieving EUREGAP compliance and 11 should be able to export into the United Kingdom’s fair trade niche.
During the 2007/08 financial year, some 400 farmers will receive training in pest and disease control. Alternative enterprise and economic activities should be identified, formulated and evaluated for former banana farmers and farm and port workers whose crops were damaged by hurricanes
Implemented in April 2005, the programme is funded by the government of Jamaica and the European Union.

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