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Government to revisit banana legislation

Government to revisit banana legislation

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As part of efforts to ensure better quality bananas for export, Agriculture Minister, Montgomery Daniel has said that for the upcoming year, 2012,{{more}} his ministry will be seeking to strengthen the existing banana legislation.

“This is very important because we realize that [there are] some farmers who are not very interested anymore in banana production, but still have their plants on their farms, not being attended to,” the Minister stated.

Daniel made his comments at a press briefing on November 23.

He explained that these neglected plants will become hosts for pest and diseases.

“So, these plants will have to be removed from those fields…

“We have to work together to build a stronger industry,” Daniel said.

He explained that WINFRESH, the export arm of bananas from St. Vincent to the United Kingdom, “is willing and ready to sell our bananas.”

“…WINFRESH has already made a name in the market place, so they are there, ready and willing to sell our bananas, but we have to ensure that the quality we export is the best in the banana business.”

Turning his attention to the quality of banana production, the Agriculture Minister disclosed that based on the fruit quality scores that were sent from the UK, the defect ‘ripe and turning’ is at 13 per cent of the fruits exported, while over grade is 16 per cent of the quality scores.

“Though you can attribute ripe and turning to leaf spot disease, over grade fruit would indicate that some farmers are allowing their fruits to go beyond the grade of harvesting.

“Mind you, plants with good healthy leaves and enough sun light can give you the grade you require to export in 8 to 9 weeks, and if you allow your fruits to go 10 and 11 weeks, they will be over grade.

“It means, therefore, that our farmers need to be doing their ribbon tagging so that the right age is being identified for harvesting and export…”

He advised that the farmers, along with the Ministry of Agriculture have to work together to ensure better fruit quality.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on a radio discussion programme on WE FM on Sunday, November 13, told farmers that after 50 years in the banana industry, “we should not be sending defective fruit to the market.”

“Please, no more crown rot, no more latex stain, no more scruffy fruit. Let’s get this thing in all the circumstances going.

“Please don’t cut off your nose and spoil your face by putting bad fruit in the box,” he added.

Three weeks ago, the bananas shipped from SVG received a quality score of 66 per cent, far lower than the minimum acceptable score of 85 per cent, according to Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson.(AA)

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