JIS News

The St. Mary Banana Estate is now Fair Trade Certified, which signifies that the fruits are produced under environmentally sustainable conditions and in keeping with standards of international labour.
Minister of Agriculture Dr. Christopher Tufton made the disclosure in a statement in the House of Representatives on (Nov. 27).
Fair Trade is an organized social movement, which aims to improve the lives of poor banana farmers and workers, by making sure that they get a fair price for the fruit on the international market.
The Fair Trade label not only offers premium price for banana, but provides an additional US$1 per box (of banana) for community development in banana producing areas.
Since 2004, all farmers exporting to Europe must be EUREPGAP certified and the European Union Banana Support Programme is providing support to the island’s 58 EUREPGAP certified farmers, to allow them to obtain Fair Trade certification within the shortest possible time.
Dr. Tufton said that the audit of the 58 EUREPGAP certified farmers that should have taken place in October had to be postponed because of Hurricane Dean, and is now scheduled to take place in March 2008.”I confidently expect that with the Ministry’s support, these 58 farmers will obtain similar certification”, Dr. Tufton said.
According to the Agriculture Minister, the strategy of the Ministry is to create a viable fair trade industry. “This strategy is even more poignant given the uncertainties within the market and the continued challenge of the European Union banana regime by Ecuador and other dollar-producing countries. We will never be able to compete with these countries based on volume, hence the criticality of the fair trade market,” he pointed out.
In the meantime, another 50 farmers are currently being prepared for both EUREPGAP and Fair Trade certification with projections for certification of an additional 230 farmers over the next three years. This move, Dr. Tufton told the House “will ensure that the country has a critical mass of banana farmers certified both for the European and the Fair Trade markets.”

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