March 24, 2006

WIBDECO to manage Spraying Operation

The Board of Directors of the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company Limited (WIBDECO), meeting in St Lucia on Wednesday, March 8, 2006, approved a package of assistance to banana growers in the Windward Islands. {{more}}

The Board announced that the sum of EC$5.1 million will be made available to assist banana growers during 2006.

The assistance package, which was recommended by management, is aimed at boosting banana production, particularly of Fairtrade bananas, to meet growing market demand for that product.

The package comprises of two components:

a) EC$1.350 million in subsidy on cost of inputs. WIBDECO will subsidise the cost of fertilizer by 80% until this amount is exhausted. Receipt of this fertilizer will be linked to participation by the grower in a Production Management Efficiency Programme.

b) EC$3.789 million in subsidy on cost of Leafspot control.

WIBDECO will meet the full operating cost of aerial spraying by helicopter and subsidise the cost of fungicides and spray oil by 50%.

WIBDECO will purchase the helicopter and manage the spraying operations in the four islands. Until the programme is in place, WIBDECO will contribute EC1.5¢ per lb towards the cost of Leafspot control, effective Load Week 11. This means that the deductions made from the payments to banana growers by the local banana companies for Leafspot control should be reduced by that amount.

The Directors also announced the payment of dividend to shareholders amounting to EC$4.725 million. However, most of the dividend will be set against recent advances to the shareholder companies and other debts due from them to the WIBDECO.