Agriculture Minister, Ezechiel Joseph, has asserted that the local banana industry is alive, although his predecessor, Moses ‘Musa’ Jn Baptiste left an agriculture department that was in a mess.
He declared that since the UWP came into office, over 600 farmers have gone back into banana production.
“That is an accomplishment,” he declared.
‘We have seen over 1200 acres being replanted in bananas in Saint Lucia. That is an accomplishment. We have seen that we have been able to export more bananas to the UK market last year.”
Joseph told a public meeting of the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) to mark its 2nd Anniversary in government, that the party believes in agriculture.
He said there was need to do things differently, since there are still opportunities open to banana farmers.
Joseph recalled that last year he and Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, visited France and England.
“The news that we got when we met with technical people and importers both in France and in England clearly tell us that the banana industry still has life – there is a market for our bananas and that is why my cabinet and my Prime Minister said ‘Look! We are going to give support to our banana farmers.’,” the minister told his audience.
However, the noted that the government has recognised the importance of giving attention to the other sectors in agriculture including fisheries, vegetables, livestock and forestry.
“We have said that we cannot grow everything in Saint Lucia. What we can grow, let’s do it and let’s do it good,” Joseph stated.
He also noted that farmers need to have a safety net, since the government does not intend to continue with the agriculture industry it met.
“Climate change is a reality,” he explained.
Recalling weather systems that impacted agriculture over the years, Joseph said the government has recognised the need to put insurance in place.
“I can tell you that we have begun discussing with out farmers, our fishermen, the kind of insurance we can put in place for them to be able to get that support, in the event that they experience the negative effect of climate change.”
“Your government is working,” he told the UWP meeting.