JIS News

Minister of State for Agriculture and Lands, Errol Ennis, has urged banana farmers to increase production for local consumption, even as they continue to supply the export market.
“The emphasis on export makes us forget at times the importance of the local banana industry. It has been estimated that subject to availability we consume almost twice the amount of banana we export. Indeed some estimates put local consumption at over 100,000 tonnes per year, with an annual value of $2.2 billion. That is why maintaining the local banana industry is so important to us,” he elaborated.
The Minister, who was speaking at the 19th annual general meeting of the Banana Export Company (BECo) today (Sept. 13) at the Jamaica Conference Centre noted further that, “we have to be focus on ensuring that the long-term future of the industry is maintained. We believe that this industry is critical to our economic growth and survival as a country, and we are cognizant that although the export market is critical the local market is also of significance”.
According to Mr. Ennis, the banana industry was critical to the country’s economic survival and, while it continued to encounter challenges such as hurricanes, the low prices in the European Union (EU), increased cost of shipping, among other things, banana farmers must continue to produce.
“Consequent upon Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis, our Ministry was barraged with applications about importing banana for the production of chips, among other things, and even for consumption locally. We believe that we would subject our industry to significant risks both disease and otherwise, if we ever allow import of banana into this country,” he stated.
The Minister expressed appreciation for the EU’s support for the local banana industry during its period of recovery from hurricanes Ivan and Dennis, but noted that this support might not always be available and the country needed to explore alternatives to EU support.
“While the EU is extremely generous in assisting us in this recovery programme, it will not go on forever. We have to begin to make plans for the post-EU support period. We have to examine all the options, it will not be possible for us to do without the banana industry,” he pointed out.
The Agriculture State Minister further called for more research and development in the industry to ensure that the country utilised the fruit to its full potential.