Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospere has explained that Saint Lucia diverted banana shipments to Trinidad and Tobago after trade with the United Kingdom was suspended.
Prospere recently announced the UK trade suspension, citing significant economic viability challenges.
However, on Monday, he told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting of his concern that what was making the rounds was that the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and he as Minister had killed bananas.
“But they never said the important part of my statement, which was as soon as this decision was taken, the very same quantity of bananas was diverted to Trinidad and Tobago,” Prospere noted.
According to the Minister, the UK trade suspension did not negatively impact local farmers.
“We are still exporting those 1000 boxes to Trinidad,” Prospere observed.
And he disclosed that the NFTO is working with a supplier in Trinidad & Tobago to ship 3,000 additional boxes of Saint Lucia bananas to the twin-Island Republic.
Nevertheless, Prospere explained that Saint Lucia did not yet have those bananas available.
“The point I am making is that we are not in a situation where the thousand boxes that were going to the UK are at a halt because our farmers would be in a position where their fruits would be hanging. Their fruits are still being harvested and they are being exported,” he told reporters.
“So I want to make it clear to the public that the situation that existed where we had to suspend exports to the UK, those fruits are now being exported to Trinidad and Tobago,” the Minister stated.
He also revealed that he spoke with a buyer in St. Thomas interested in bananas and plantains, avocadoes, citrus, and other crops.
“We are doing well so far,” Prospere told reporters.
But he said he was not too happy with the UK trade suspension as farmers were getting more for their fruit in the UK compared to the region.
At the same time, Prospere asserted that the region has tremendous potential.
In this regard, the Agriculture Minister believes Saint Lucian farmers will continue to make money once they can export their bananas to the region.
Headline photo: Alfred Prospere (Stock image)