Prospere Says SLP Found Banana Industry ‘In A Mess’, But Reports ‘Good Progress’ – St. Lucia Times News

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

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Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospere has disclosed that when the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) came into office it found the banana industry ‘in a mess’.

But the Dennery North MP told reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting on Monday that Saint Lucia is making good progress since resuming banana exports to the United Kingdom in June this year.

“This week will be the tenth week and we have a quota of 2000 boxes per week. Initially, we started with the 2000 boxes but because of some issues with our farmers, especially with regard to lack of inputs, initially the dry spell, we had a small problem in terms of meeting the 2000 boxes,” the former Chief Forestry Officer explained.

But Prospere disclosed that exports last week were back to the 2000 boxes.

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“We are hoping that we can continue to improve the industry to ensure that our farmers can be a lot more confident when they produce bananas – they will not have an issue with selling their bananas,” the Minister told reporters.

He said Saint Lucia had engaged the UK fresh produce company Primafruit which is currently buying this country’s 2000 boxes of banana exports.

And Prospere said the company is very impressed with the quality.

He disclosed that visiting the ripening facility, he recognized some issues regarding crown rot and a few bruises.

The UK company also raised the matter of the time it takes for Saint Lucia bananas to arrive – some 21 days, compared to the 12 to 16 days of other country exports.

Prospere indicated that measures would be taken to address that with the shipping company.

He also disclosed that Saint Lucia hopes Sainsbury officials would visit in September-October to review banana plantations before deciding on contract renewal.

Regarding banana exports to the region, the Agriculture Minister told reporters that Saint Lucia is now shipping some 6 500 boxes a week with the hopes of increasing that quota to 10000.

“If we can maintain the UK market, we will be doing well,” Prospere declared.

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