Saint Lucia Awaiting Banana Box Imports To Alleviate Shortage – St. Lucia Times

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Saint Lucia’s Agriculture Ministry has bought 17,000 banana and plantain boxes from the Dominican Republic to alleviate a shortage that has negatively impacted local farmers.

The shortage has contributed to wasted crops.

The shipment of boxes was due here this week, but there was a delay.

Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospere disclosed that the items left the Dominican Republic en route to Jamaica last Saturday.

However, Prospere said the boxes remained in Jamaica on Monday, while the ship was due to arrive here the next day.

Saint Lucia has since learned that the boxes left in Jamaica will leave on Saturday and arrive here next Thursday.

Given the situation, the Ministry of Agriculture has ordered 12,000 boxes from the United States.

The Ministry hopes that the shipment will arrive by Wednesday morning.

“This situation is very painful for me as the Minister for Agriculture,” Prospere lamented.

He described it as a severe disruption of the banana and plantain sector.

He noted that the banana box issue had arisen while banana and plantain farmers enjoyed surplus production after Tropical Storm Bret devastated their crops in June last year.

The banana box shortage occurred after Windward Islands Packaging Company Ltd (WINERA), which produces the items, experienced a breakdown of its 50-year-old machine.

The company ordered a replacement from China, and installation is underway.

Nevertheless, the Agriculture Minister disclosed that even with the installation of the replacement, the materials needed for production are unavailable.

Prosper was hopeful that if all went well, farmers could resume harvesting and generate an income by next week.