JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke said today (April 18) that the sustained challenges by the Latin American producers of Jamaica’s trading arrangement with Europe has underscored the necessity of increasing the quality and productivity of banana farmers.
In his contribution to the 2007/08 Budget debate today (April 18) , the Minister said that if the banana industry was to survive the implementation of the full duty free/quota free access to banana markets in the African, Caribbean Pacific states, Jamaica has to do this in the area of fair trade.
“Fair trade is an organised social movement, which promotes standards for international labour, environmentalism, and social policy in areas relating to production of fair trade labeled and unlabeled goods,” said Mr. Clarke.
“In other words if we can have the necessary certification that we are producing our banana under these conditions, then consumers in the European Union (EU) are willing to pay a premium price. Of significance a component of that price will be related to the social and community projects,” he added.
Mr. Clarke also informed that the Ministry along with the EU will be taking deliberate steps to assists farmers with training, capacity building and infrastructure to attain EurepGAP compliance to allow them to export into fair trading niche market in the United Kingdom. EurepGAP is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe.
“So far we have spent $76 million in this process, and the remaining resources of $80 million under the EU Banana Support programme will be directed at assisting more farmers to qualify. We are doing this as a niche in which we can hold our own. This is the formula for the banana industry,” stated Mr. Clarke.