August 28, 2012
NDP banana proposals not yet ready – Eustace

Vincentians will have to wait longer yet, to hear what proposals the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has to revitalise the banana industry.{{more}}

The NDP earlier this year visited farmers across the country and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said early July that his party was close to finalising its proposals “to save the banana industry”.

He had said that the NDP’s banana plan would have been released shortly after Carnival, which ended on July 10.

But Eustace told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that the plan would be made public soon.

“It shouldn’t be long from now. I’ll probably have a press conference. I haven’t decided the exact date, because it is going to be fairly expensive to carry out a proper bring back of this industry. I am refining some aspects of it. So, I don’t want to make a specific announcement as to the time,” Eustace said.

He had said in July that the NDP’s plan “is not a fly-by-night programme.

“It is going to take a significant amount of money and it has to have some income support for farmers. It also will require a lot of other activities.”

Eustace had said that the first draft of the document was being prepared with the intention of rehabilitating about 4,000 acres of fruit.

This country’s banana cultivation was ravaged by Hurricane Tomas, which destroyed 98 per cent of plants in 2010, and Black Sigatoka, which ran amok last year when agricultural officials failed to spray against the disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture has since initiated Operation Cut Back, during which diseased plants were felled and fields rehabilitated.

Fields are being replanted during Operation Plant Back.

Reporters last week accompanied Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson and other agricultural officials, as they visited some of the rehabilitated banana fields.

The farmers told the media that although it was a “hectic and frustrating” process, “it was all worth it”. (KXC)