- Minister Clarke has lauded the European Union (EU) for its continued support to the banana industry.
- The EU has awarded a four-year €1.9 million grant to the Banana Board.
- The support falls under the Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAMs).
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has lauded the European Union (EU) for its continued support to the banana industry, which has again been demonstrated with the award of a four-year €1.9 million grant to the Banana Board.
This is in addition to the Government of Jamaica’s €2.5 million, which is being provided to give technical support to farmers over four years, to improve productivity and production. The support falls under the Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAMs).
Additionally, the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA) will receive just over €2 million under the JBMAs, to develop markets.
Addressing the Board’s 60th anniversary celebration function at the Jamaica Conference Centre , downtown Kingston, on October 29, the Minister explained that the major objective of the programme is to reduce the cost of production for farmers and agri-businesses.
“We sincerely acknowledge the support of the European Union for this initiative,” he said, noting that the Ministry will shortly sign the new four-year successor programme for the JBAMs, in the sum of €4.7 million.
He further informed that the Ministry has just completed implementation of the EU Banana Support Programme, which benefitted more than 30,000 banana and plantain farmers in traditional banana dependent communities in St. James, Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Thomas, St. Mary and Portland.
“We constructed roads, bridges, weather stations, banana databases, provided institutional support to the AIBGA, as well as new technologies and extension services through the Banana Board and RADA,” the Minister outlined.
He said that with implementation of the new programme, greater focus will be placed on building and improving competitiveness of the banana and plantain industries.
“The Banana Accompanying Measures (BAMs) is a direct response to the various challenges which are presently experienced by the local banana sector,” Mr. Clarke noted.
The Minister asserted that with the funding and other support efforts, and subject to good weather, it is anticipated that banana production should move to 100,000 tonnes over three years.
Production is currently some 50,000 tonnes, which is mainly for local consumption. This is down from the 200,000 tonnes produced for export in 1996.
“Nonetheless, the banana sector continues to be a major contributor to Jamaica’s economic and social well-being, especially as it relates to the continued contribution it makes to the community and the banana producing parishes,” Mr. Clarke noted.
Twenty-four persons were awarded for their contribution to the sector over the years, including three in the ‘Outstanding Youth in Banana Production’ category.
Meanwhile, seven companies and organisations were recognised for outstanding contribution to the industry.