August 3, 2012
Banana the only crop that brings in weekly income – agriculture official

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Nathaniel Williams believes that the ‘farm dollar’ is the most economically important dollar in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), and as such, should be protected with the fight against the debilitating Black Sigatoka disease.{{more}}

Williams was, on July 19, speaking at a consultation between banana stakeholders and officials from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at the Ministry of Foreign affairs conference room in Kingstown.

The Permanent Secretary implied that the revenue generated by farmers, in this case banana farmers, touches every aspect of life in SVG, as compared with other sources of income.

“Banana, as far as I know, is the only crop that brings in a weekly income; it’s not seasonal…

“… When a farmer gets a dollar, the shopkeeper gets a piece of it, the plumber, the carpenter, the vendor gets a piece, the bank gets a piece, the warehouse in town gets a piece, and even the haggler outside the school gets a piece.

“It’s not a trickle down effect; it is a total spending at the mass populace level, and I therefore say a farm dollar is about the most economic dollar in St Vincent and the Grenadines, hence when the dollar is out of the farmers’ hands the economy slows down; the impact is significant.”

Williams said that the two-day meeting, which saw FAO officials making presentations on Black Sigatoka and ways to lessen its devastating effect on the industry, was one initiative in the government’s fight to eliminate the disease, an effort which Williams admitted was “almost improbable”.

He said that the Ministry of Agriculture was making the necessary investments in the banana industry, which included the procurement of fertilizer, as well as credit at the National Insurance Services, and called on the farmers to play their part in the industry’s fight against the disease.

“The issue of control is in the hands of the farmers,” Williams stated.

“No matter what work government does, the issue of the control is really in the hand of the farmers. The plane will spray, the ground crew will go out …but no matter what work is done a cooperative approach is necessary … to ensure farmers go back to the land and reap the rewards of their labour.

“Agriculture is about one of the most fundamental endeavours of the human being in existence; others can do great things, but every one of us needs the farmer and every farmer in St Vincent and the Grenadines is as important as the Prime Minister. Each has an important space in the economic framework of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”(JJ)