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Banana Farmers, stakeholders continue to ride the low waves of productivity

Banana Farmers, stakeholders continue to ride the low waves of productivity

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The low quantity and quality of bananas being shipped currently is the expected result of a series of field cutbacks which took place some months ago.{{more}} However, banana officials expect the numbers to rise in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, banana farmers and other stakeholders will have to ride the low waves of productivity, with the belief that shipments will pick up in months to come.

Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson, speaking at a press conference last week, which took place at the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room, said that banana officials are not surprised by the low yields that have been shipped by WINFARM this year, but with certain steps taken in recent times, this will not go on for much longer.

“We have seen over the past seven weeks a reduction in the exports. I think we are down to just over 300 boxes per week, and the quality is basically the same as reported before the end of the year.

“We consider it to be low quality, even though we have seen some improvements, though it is not at the level to which we would want to boast about.”

According to Robertson, apart from the cutbacks, a number of initiatives have been and will be employed to ensure that the quality levels and volume pick up, which in the process will revive the struggling banana industry, which has, over the years, been attacked on many fronts, with the key enemy being the Black Sigatoka disease.

These include a promotion, public awareness and education campaign for farmers, as well as the introduction of disease resistant plants, which Robertson said are currently going through a testing phase.

“They are completely different from the bananas which we know, but I think with time, they will grow on persons; but if that is the direction which we have to go in order to be able to control, together with the chemical controls, we will see what is best for the industry from a commercial standpoint.”

“We are optimistic that we will ride through this…. Together with WINFA, SVG Producers, and National Fair Trade; with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, we will get this done.

On Tuesday this week, Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, responding to a question in parliament, revealed that number of boxes shipped had been below expectations.

According to Caesar, 5,100 boxes of bananas were shipped in the first seven weeks, with as many as 1,393 shipped in one week, and as low as 225 on another occasion.(JJ)

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