Split banana realities
Our Readers' Opinions
March 31, 2006

Split banana realities

Earlier this year, in January, the news was that banana farming was on its knees. The quantity of banana that we exported to Europe in 2005 had tumbled down to less than 20 thousand tons, and there was no sign that the industry was going to get back on its feet. The last time our export had fallen below 20 thousand tons had been in 1980 after an eruption and a hurricane! In the past 40 years, only twice before this, (1975 and 1980) did we export less than 20 thousand tons. {{more}} Things are bad. More than that over the past four months, when the complete NPK fertilizer was needed most to prime the 2006 production, it was in short supply. Things are getting worse, and I have proposed elsewhere that an urgent productivity programme is a major must item for the industry.

In the midst of our “crawling on hands and knees” industry, the most recent news items have been songs of triumph and tinkering as we heard of the success of the more than a million dollars fair-trade social works fund, a suggestion to sell bananas to Turkey and other good sounding ideas. Such reports imply that things are being managed well and that the future is secure. Although – and because our banana exports to Europe are so low, our international business house, WIBDECO, made a fair sized trading project during the past year. What is the reinvestment strategy of WIBDECO for the short term and the medium term? Will WIBDECO help to deal with the real tumble down state of the industry here, or will it join in the hyped up song of “things all right Jack”?

When we examine the real and solid achievement of Fair-trade, let us recognized that in the farming community, one of its functions is that of a “safety net”, an anti poverty network mechanism. The industry needs additional transforming networks, but at present, the leaders in WIBDECO, BGA and government don’t see it that way. They need a shake up to wake up to the new times.

Oscar Allen