April 23, 2010
Rose tells farmers stop the pulling and tugging

Co-ordinator of the Winward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA) Renwick Rose has made an appeal for a more positive outlook from farmers and stakeholders, as they face the challenges that the banana industry is up against.{{more}}

Rose made the call at the 10th General Assembly of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Fair Trade Organization, held on Wednesday at the Kingstown Methodist Church Hall.

Rose pointed out that there are opportunities for the industry to advance.

“We simply cannot continue in the same manner as before,” he urged in a speech that was also sent to the St. Lucia Fair Trade Organization, who were also holding their General Assembly on the same day.

“Each and every farmer must take responsibility for excellence in quality and for increasing productivity.”

“We cannot afford to be like a cruise ship with more passengers than crew, we must be more like a battle ship where each person must pull his or her weight.”

Rose pointed out that the banana industry is constantly changing and needs to respond appropriately, by acknowledging that there is need for widening of their basket of produce and activities that are essential for survival.

Rose said possession of the Fair Trade brand is a powerful tool which should be utilized fully.

“WINFA has begun to chart a path forward, but we must all be on board and stop our pulling and tugging.”

Rose noted that a three-year strategic plan had been developed for the industry, which can only succeed with the committment at all levels when stakeholders change their outlook to a more commercial one, marketing both bananas and other produce at a national, regional and international levels.

He indicated that the concept of Fair Trade Agri-Tourism is also being explored.

“We are no longer playing ‘flannel ball cricket’, we are in the major international arena. We are competing against multi billion dollar companies. We can’t do this if we are divided, if we are fragmented and if we don’t have that strategic mission to take us forward.”

“In this, we need the fullest support of our governments and above all, you, the farmers.”

The assembly was also addressed by Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel, Chairman of the local Fair Trade Organization Philemon Allen, and Chairman of the Dominica Fair Trade Organization Charles Watty. (JJ)