August 10, 2012
Agriculture Minister compliments farmers

As St Vincent and the Grenadines continues to struggle to revive the banana industry, farmers have been complimented for their perseverance.{{more}}

According to Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar, banana farmers here have shown courage and steadfastness over the past two years, when the banana industry was at its most critical.

“What you have been through in the past two years, in many islands we have seen where many persons would have fallen out of the industry. The farmers who continued in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Tomas, where some 95 per cent of our farms and plants were destroyed, it took a lot of courage,” the Minister said.

Caesar, who was at the time addressing the gathering of farmers at the 12th General Assembly of Fair Trade Banana Producers, on July 2 at the Methodist Church Hall, said he is proud to be in charge of a Ministry that serves “committed and hard working” farmers.

“The banana service unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, we can do so much, but the farmers also have a very significant role to play, which they have thus far demonstrated,” he added.

He, however, informed the farmers that the way in which bananas were produced and cultivated in the past is not the same today, because of the Black Sigatoka and other related fruit diseases.

“Most of us [farmers] would have been involved in the banana industry, some persons as far back as the 70’s and the manner in which we would have grown bananas in those days and the manner in which we are growing it now, with the presence of Black Sigatoka and Moco, we all know it is a total different environment,” he said.

The Agriculture Minister told farmers it is very important that they focus on intensifying their labour, which according to him, will be an additional expence, but must be done in order to maintain “healthy fields and in turn quality produce.”

“I know it’s going to increase the labour cost on most farmers, but if we are to grow bananas in an environment where there is the presence of Black Sigatoka, even though the Cronshaw levels are low and Black Sigatoka is under control, we have serious technical work to do to keep it controlled,” Caesar further stated. (AA)