Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar says that the reduction in the
export of bananas from neighboring St Lucia following the passage of
Tropical Storm Kirk can create opportunities for Vincentian farmers.
The agriculture minister made the comment as he responded to questions
of banana shipment to the UK and projection for the first half of 2019
posed by the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in parliament last
Thursday.
Caesar said that on the issue of shipment to UK the main focus has been
to explore fully the regional market and to secure greater market
share in the region.
“We have never closed the door on the UK market. And this is clear
from our continued support in actively engaging farmers and farmers
organizations in pursuing the certification necessary for extra-regional trade in bananas. And we’ll continue to assist,” he said.
The agricultural minister said that with a decline of approximately 40
percent in banana exports to the extra-regional markets from St Lucia
following the passage of Tropical Storm Kirk, the marketing company
Winfresh has been contacted to assess the situation of supply and
demand from the Windward Islands. He said that St Lucia’s decline
could create opportunities for St Vincent and the Grenadines and they
are awaiting a response from Winfresh.
“At the same time, Mr. Speaker, the reduction in St Lucia’s ability to
supply to the regional market because of Tropical Storm Kirk, has also
opened another opportunity for us to increase our exports to the
regional market. In fact, farmers have noted that traders who trade on
the Barbados market for bananas, since Tropical Storm Kirk in St
Lucia, that they are seeing greater take up to that market,” Caesar
said.
On the matter of projections for the period January 2019 to June 2019,
minister Caesar said that “based on the trend for the past two years,
it is between 1,000 – 1,500 tonnes.’