Banana farmers get Moko relief
Front Page
July 27, 2007
Banana farmers get Moko relief

Banana farmers who received compensation totaling EC$476,646 for their crops affected by the Moko disease, have been encouraged by the speakers who addressed the short handing over ceremony last week to spend their money wisely.{{more}}

The compensation packages were distributed to 118 banana farmers last Thursday, July 19, as Government pledged their commitment to the struggling banana industry.

Speaking at a brief ceremony at the La Croix Paletization Centre, Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel, described the occasion as historic, saying that it was the most money ever paid in compensation or given out to farmers by a government in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The compensation packages were paid out following the completion of the first phase of examination and treatment of plants affected by the moko, since the disease was officially diagnosed as being in this country on May 31st.

Up to July 13, crops on some 86 acres of land have been treated.

Minister Daniel announced that money would be paid out weekly to farmers as their farms were inspected and found to be affected. A formula has been put in place to determine the worth of the destroyed crops as the eradication team moves through the various farms.

Minister Daniel told the farmers gathered that while the changing market regime and the moko disease are combining to squeeze the life out of the industry, his government remains steadfast in its commitment.

“Government is totally committed to the total survival of the banana industry,” he said.

Daniel said that banana remains the major crop in the country and while the Government is moving towards agricultural diversification, any such diversification will be done around and not in place of banana.

Bananas earned EC$23 million in 2006.

The money being used in the fight against moko (including the compensation to farmers) was made available through the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan, who on June 15, donated EC$4 million to the Vincentian government to assist in the process.

This, after Cabinet had initially pledged EC$3.5 million for the eradication, compensation and replanting efforts.

Government officials believe that barring the continued spread of the disease, some 200 acres of this country’s 3300 acres of bananas are affected by the deadly predator.

Parliamentary Representative for Marriaqua, Girlyn Miguel thanked the farmers for their perseverance but warned that the process isn’t over and the fight against moko continues.

Acting Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson announced that in addition to the money from Taiwan, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has also contributed US$100,000 to the fight.

The National Fair trade organization has also donated EC$30,000, which will be used to produce a moko educational booklet for the farmers. (KJ)