JIS News

As banana production steadily increases in St. James, a concerted effort is now being made to re-activate the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA) area council in that parish. Approximately 250 banana farmers from within the parish turned up at the Maroon Town Methodist Church Hall, in South St. James yesterday (February 28), for the first general meeting following months of planning by a steering committee.
Chairman of the AIBGA, Bobby Pottinger, and Vice President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Glendon Harris, attended the meeting, which culminated with the election of a twelve-member area council for the parish. The elected members were from the various banana growing areas of the parish.
In an interview with JIS News, the AIBGA president stated that banana production in St. James is not to the satisfaction of his organization, because it is not taking place in a structured way. “It is domestic production that is taking place now, they sell to hotels and they sell all over the place, they are not in the export business, and it’s hard to quantify how it is. What you have is spots of Banana here, there and everywhere. We are trying to reorganize it now to bring it back into a proper area council,” he explained.
Mr. Pottinger emphasized that although there are some individual banana farmers within the parish who are doing well for themselves, the production of the fruit in the parish is not being done as an industry.
However, he expressed confidence that, with the necessary assistance, production could reach export levels once more. He noted that this assistance is forthcoming from the European Union (EU).
Pointing out that it would take the availability of a minimum of about 500 tonnes or more of bananas on a regular basis to start shipping the fruit from the port in Montego Bay once again, Mr. Pottinger argued that there might well be enough plant already being grown, to sufficiently produce that amount of bananas, but the industry is not properly organized in the area.
“If it is organized properly, we can fetch more than what we are getting locally, and that’s where we are going. We have to show the returns to the farmers before we can convince them”, he stated.
He insisted that the reorganized area council is needed to offer the necessary representation for the farmers, in order to access available assistance.
Meanwhile JAS Vice President, Glendon Harris, called on the farmers to take their organization seriously and to adopt a positive attitude towards production. He said there needs to be application of modern scientific methods in the production of banana in the parish, which, he says, would help to increase production levels and accommodate export.
Wesley Fowles, chairman of the meeting, and one of the initiators of the move to revive the St. James AIBGA area council was elected, along with 12 other persons, as delegates to the new council. Mr. Fowles was also elected as a Director to the AIBGA.

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