Catastrophe Fund for Banana Industry

The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is in the process of establishing a catastrophe fund for the banana sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, who made the announcement during his contribution to the 2007/08 Budget Debate in Gordon House today (April 18), said that the fund will be financed through a $31 million grant, in addition to a 20 per cent cost recovery from farmers, derived from inputs delivered under the recently signed $120 million assistance programme with the European Union. “One of the things that we will be doing as we proceed with our assistance to the banana industry is to place more focus on the western end of the country, which use to be a vibrant growing area. This is consistent with our drive to strengthen the linkage between tourism and agriculture and also to increase rural incomes,” said Mr. Clarke.
In the meantime the Minister informed that the European Union Rural Diversification Project, valued at more than $600 million is now on stream. He said that the intention is to provide support and alternative livelihoods to people in the banana industry, who may become displaced as a result of the changing trading regime.
“The Ministry has been promoting new non-traditional agricultural enterprises even before this project came into being. These resources therefore will be used to channel people into these tried and proven areas that the Ministry has been promoting,” said the Minister.
He added that, “we intend to use these resources to further promote rural development and channel former banana growers/workers into agro processing activities, eco tourism, quarrying, trucking services and other worthwhile enterprises.”
“We have the formula and we are going to use these resources to radically transform and diversify the economic base of those banana growing communities,” informed Mr. Clarke.

JIS Social