Vincentian bananas back on the European market
June 21, 2011
Vincentian bananas back on the European market

Just over seven months after shipment of bananas from this country was halted, because of the destructive forces of Hurricane Tomas, Vincentian bananas are back on the European market.{{more}}

Last Sunday, June 19, 2,000 cartons of the once nicknamed ‘Green Gold’ sailed off to Europe, the first time since October 23, 2010, when more than 15,000 cartons left these shores.

One week after that, not only the banana trees, but the industry also came crashing down, when Tomas’ winds destroyed close to one hundred per cent (2,400 acres) of the fruit.

Henry Keizer, Manager of the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFARM) said that Sunday’s shipment can be considered a victory for the banana industry, which has been going through a rough period for a number of years now.

“It’s a victory in a sense that there is a school of thought that banana is dead. I have always maintained that it would only die, when we sit back and do nothing; but there is always a market for bananas in the U.K, so long as its Fair Trade global gap bananas.” “It’s a victory and we will just continue herein after.”

Keizer indicated that the local farmers had met the Winfresh required minimum 2000 certified standard, which gave them the green light to resume shipping to the United Kingdom.

He said that despite some rejected boxes, all officials were satisfied with the quality of bananas shipped, and all concerned are expecting an increase when the next shipment goes out next Sunday.

According to Keizer, the resilience of the farmers in reviving and rehabilitating their farms, with some help from the government, must be noted.

“Immediate assistance to the farmers in terms of rehabilitation assistance of $400 per acre, along with fertilizer and a promise of seven months of income support, of which three installments have already been paid.”

“Farmers responded to the challenge and to date over 2,300 acres of bananas have been replanted or rehabilitated.”

“The farmers are elated. They have been rapping at our doors asking ‘when are you going to start?’ Despite everything, they have not lost their resilience; they realize that there is a future for the banana industry and its all about producing quality bananas in response to the requirements of the market.”

The Manager said that he is confident that the quality will be maintained and that the quantity will increase from week to week.

At present, shipment will only be received in Kingstown, and as volume increases, collection will resume in Langley Park.(JJ)