Govt. Fully Committed to Assisting Banana Industry – Minister


Minister of Agriculture, Christopher Tufton, has assured that the new Government is fully committed to providing the banana industry with the assistance it needed to remain viable, and to enable the sector to continue to be a major contributor to the national economy.
Addressing a meeting of St. Mary banana farmers at the Trinity boxing plant in Port Maria, during a tour of that parish on September 26, Dr. Tufton said that commitment was based on the general recognition that the vibrancy of the agricultural sector ias fundamental to the social and economic development of the country.
The tour, which was hosted by the All Island Banana Growers Association, enabled the Minister to see first hand the status of the banana industry in St. Mary and the difficulties being faced by banana farmers as a result of the impact of Hurricane Dean, which affected the island on August 19.
Dr. Tufton told the farmers that he was aware of the difficulties they were facing as a consequence of the adjustments being made on the international market, and the destruction caused by the passing of hurricanes over the past three years.
Noting that government is fully cognisant of the resilience of the banana farmers and their ability to overcome the challenges being confronted, he said the Ministry would be embarking on a number of strategies aimed at assisting farmers and guaranteeing the long and short term viability of the industry.
He said these strategies included, negotiating a $28 million assistance programme with the European Union for the further development of the banana industry; implementing strategies to secure Fair Trade concesssion to guarantee Jamaican banana increased price on the European market; and the distribution of $5 million worth of fertilizer to assist with the resuscitation of banana farms, following the passage of Hurricane Dean.
Dr. Tufton said the amount of fertilizer to be distributed represented the second part of a $10 million assistance programme implemented earlier, in response to the effects of Hurricane Dean, and that the $28 million to be received from the European Union would be used for the rehabilitation of farm roads and the further development of the banana sector.
The Minister added that the Ministry would be working closely with banana farmers to ensure that the necessary standards are maintained to enable them to maximize the opportunities that would become available to them as a result of the Fair Trade concession to be sought.
He said the government was also in discussion with the Jamaica Producers Group to devise ways of securing additional funding for the banana industry, and would be working with the farmers to improve production and attract investments in the banana sector to diversify the use of the fruit and maximize the earnings from the sector.

JIS Social