August 9, 2011
Farmers assured of more income support soon

The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is working assiduously to help the banana industry get back on its feet, following recent damage to crops by severe weather in the past few months.{{more}}

To this end, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries Montgomery Daniel has assured farmers that those who have not yet received payments, as part of the Income Support Program, will do so shortly.

Speaking at a press conference at the Ministry of Agriculture last Thursday, August 4, Daniel said all such payments had been approved by Cabinet on Wednesday, August 3. He also revealed that, to date, over $3 million has been given to farmers, as part of an Income Support Program. He further added, “To date, the government would have…under the Hurricane Tomas program, spent approximately $1.5 million to try and help in this regard.”

Daniel also noted with pride that the “re-exportation” of bananas to the United Kingdom had recently started, albeit at a much reduced quantity of approximately 50 palettes.

“The exportation”, he said “could have been a little more, but… the banana industry was faced with the dreaded “Black Sigatoka” (Leaf Spot) Problem and so, after, the Ministry in its restoration of the banana industry from Hurricane Tomas, began regular cycles for Leaf Spot control.”

This problem, he said, was exacerbated by the unusually high level of rainfall, resulting in St. Vincent having what he termed “one of the wettest dry seasons”.

As a counteractive measure, a decision, he said, was taken, following a meeting with the stakeholders in the industry, to have all of the plants suffering from Leaf Spot disease and with bunches having fewer than six leaves, cut back. Farmers, he said, will of course be compensated, and he further assured them that the aerial spraying for Leaf Spot disease will be carried out as scheduled.

The Ministry, Daniel stated, will continue to work with its partners to ensure that the best can be delivered to the farmers.