Box Shortage Hits Banana Industry – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

Agriculture Minister Henry Prospere is lamenting what he calls an impending crisis in the banana industry, pertaining to a shortage of boxes.

He said the authorities plan to address this matter.

Prospere disclosed that the problem has occurred when there is a surplus of food crops in the local market.

“Our farmers are now faced with a crisis with the unavailability of boxes at WINERA,” he told reporters at a media briefing on Monday.

He said the problem has been ongoing for the last three weeks.

The Minister explained that the authorities had contacted WINERA to discuss the matter.

WINERA, in turn, disclosed that the company services its machines every year around this time.

However, Prospere said, there had been a lack of communication with the private exporters.

As a result, he added, “the private exporters found themselves not having cartons to export bananas.”

“But the Ministry of Agriculture took a pro-active approach and we requested 7,000 boxes (from) the Dominican Republic,” he said.

Prospere hoped the supply would arrive in Saint Lucia within the next week.

However, he noted that the delay could negatively affect farming operations since “it is happening at a time when we have a surplus of bananas”.

Prospere told reporters that the crop is likely to ripen and that farmers will not be compensated for “their hard work.”

He said that the farmers have been provided 34,000 bags of fertilizer in the last three weeks, adding to the tension.

“It means that those fertilizers will further increase production,” the Minister stated.

Prospere told reporters that the authorities are working to resolve the situation and anticipate that the farmers will continue their harvest.

He said WINERA revealed that the next material supply would be available by April 10 “to recommence production of cartons.”

Prospere added that while the company has a monopoly on supplying banana boxes, “we may have to decide to allow another entity, maybe Export Saint Lucia, to import boxes.”