CASTRIES: The Government of St. Lucia says a new cadre of farmers is needed if the island is to take advantage of new emerging markets globally.
“I believe there’s room to create a new regime of farmer insisting that they become business people,” said Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.
The Prime Minister said at present the present time the local banana industry cannot maximize emerging opportunities, due to the black sigatoka disease, which has taken a toll on plantations and forced some farmers to abandon their farms.
Dr. Anthony noted that the cost of inputs and production had become exorbitant, even though the government was subsidizing prices.
However, he said there were “possibilities” that the industry should seek to exploit.
“I believe there’s a huge market for bananas in the Caribbean and we should do more to export out fruit there because we are not doing enough on that front.
“There’s no reason for example, why Chiquita bananas should find their way into the market in Trinidad and Tobago and we need to lead the way in making use of that market,” Anthony said, adding that more could be done to market the banana fruit in Caribbean tourist destinations and to cruise ships.
Last month, Anthony said he was surprised at the move by Chiquita Brand International to acquire the Irish-based Fyffes, which distributes fruits, including bananas, across Europe.
Chiquita said that it would pay about $526 million for Fyffes and global industry sources said the deal will potentially give Chiquita some sway over prices.
Although Anthony said regional banana producers would not forget the role played by Chiquita in the erosion of the preferential treatment for Caribbean bananas on the European market, the new deal also opens new possibilities for Caribbean bananas.