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All is fair with Windwards bananas

All is fair with Windwards bananas

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20.OCT.06

There is a future in the banana industry, and it has to do with the Fair Trade Organization. More than 80 per cent of Vincentian farmers are selling their produce in this way, thus bringing benefits to the nation and Windward Islands region altogether. That’s the view from Renwick Rose, Chairman of the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA).

Rose was commenting on the staging of the 5th WINFA Biennial General Assembly, which wound up in St Lucia last week Thursday.{{more}}

St Vincent and the Grenadines was represented by a Fair Trade Group, as well as by WINFA staff and delegates.

WINFA delegates meet every two years to synchronize operations, and the Fair Trade Group is becoming an integral part of this outfit. Through the fair trade regime, Windward island farmers have been able to maintain a level of pricing which has seen their standard of living improve to a reasonable extent.

The fair trade era has developed into a system of trust where consumers know that their fruit has been grown with less chemicals, and under conditions that are more environmentally friendly and has a degree of socially acceptable measures.

Rose expressed optimism over the life of the banana industry, so long as Fair Trade farmers are involved. If the practice continues, Vincentian farmers can look forward to greater involvement of the business sector in the food production chain.

Rose pointed to linkages between the tourism industry and farmers. A model has already been in place in St Lucia where tourism and the hospitality service are increasingly engaged with the farming community.

Rose is anticipating that vegetable producers here and supermarket owners could soon formalise arrangements which would ensure that there is coordination between the two groups.

That’s an aspect of the development from the recent WINFA gathering.

Additionally, Rose, supported by Arthur Bobb also of WINFA, is looking forward to seeing greater emphasis placed on agriculture. He sees agriculture as an important asset to tourism development and food security.

By next month, discussions on the production of fruits and vegetables should provide the basis for the potential of more export markets for Vincentian farmers.

The WINFA delegation is hoping that greater interaction and coordination among stakeholders would redound to the benefit of especially the rural communities thus ensuring that agriculture maintains its place as a backbone to the nation’s economic stability.

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