Asserting that agriculture is an ‘incredibly important sector’ to this country, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has said that his administration is ‘absolutely committed’ to the banana industry.
“We think that is an important crop in the mix of our economy,” Chastanet said Wednesday night.
He made the comments during Newsmaker Live, on DBS Television.
“We can sell more bananas than we produce,” the PM asserted.
However, he acknowledged that Saint Lucia’s production would be only a miniscule part of the global market share.
Nevertheless, he explained that Saint Lucia will be rolling out a massive advertising programme.
The programme will feature a new logo for locally grown bananas, while ensuring that all tourism industry workers wear it.
Chastanet explained that when hotels display bananas, they will feature the logo.
“We have had great meetings with Fyffes and also with Waitrose and Sainsbury and they have agreed to put our bananas with those logos,” Chastanet revealed.
But the former Tourism Minister said not everyone understands the synergy between tourism and agriculture.
“They go hand in hand,” Chastanet declared.
As a result, he asserted that the two industries do not compete against each other.
“The more successful your tourism product is, the more successful your farming products are,” the PM stated.
“Because there’s a ready market that we don’t have to export to,” Chastanet said.
And he described untimely payments to farmers by hotels as a thing of the past.
“We have distributors that are now setting up in the middle of the Ministry of Agriculture, now setting up an agriculture hub station, so we are absorbing that problem from the hoteliers and many of the hoteliers now are paying their bills on time,” Chastanet stated.
He acknowledged that payments have been a problem.
Nevertheless the PM said that more and more, hoteliers want ‘that local product’.
He also said the hoteliers understand the importance of buying local while paying farmers on time.