by Anicia Antoine & Amanda-Faye Clarke
The Government of Saint Lucia has approved a 30 percent subsidy on inputs for banana farmers in light of the rising cost of production and productivity challenges faced by stakeholders in the banana sub-sector.
Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Alfred Prospere, said the subsidy will help farmers maintain the production output of their farms.
The agreement, sealed by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Fair Trade Organisation (NFTO) ensures access to cheaper agricultural inputs—fertilizers in particular—that have been highlighted by farmers, islandwide, as a necessary point of assistance.
Chairman of the National Fair Trade Organization (NFTO), Larry Andrew, said the agreement will help boost production and improve the standards required to maintain key international markets.
“This subsidy is a start, and I’m hoping that it is something that we can continue to work on,” he said.
“As it is now, based on the MOU, farmers will be benefiting from two cycles of fertilizer at a reduced cost, two 25kg bags per acre at a discount of 30 percent. Whenever productivity is rising or increasing on the island, all stakeholders need to benefit, so when the NFTO makes decisions, we think of all and not just the NFTO farmers.”
Minister Prospere said the high cost of inputs is a major challenge faced by farmers across the island.
He said this latest decision by the Cabinet of Ministers demonstrates the priority placed on building resilient, sustainable agriculture livelihoods, and underscores the importance of the banana industry to Saint Lucia.
SOURCE: Government Information Service