Amid efforts to open additional markets in the Caribbean for Saint Lucia bananas, Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospere has urged more local consumption of the fruit.
Prospere says aside from the traditional United Kingdom market and exports to the region, Saint Lucians must take responsibility to consume more of this country’s crop.
He described the school feeding programme as an excellent opportunity to encourage children to eat a banana daily.
“Aside from children, we can do the same for the prison, the hospitals you know and really increase consumption of our bananas,” Prospere said during an appearance on the programme Agriculture on the Move.
The Minister observed that a ripening facility has existed at La Caye for many years.
And he recalled discussions with the National Fair Trade Organization on operationalising it to make more bananas available to locals.
“We are producing it and we have a responsibility to consume it,” Prospere asserted.
At the same time, the Agriculture Minister stressed the importance of producing quality fruit of one standard for both the UK and the regional market.
“Quality is very important. I am urging our farmers that quality should be of one standard and not think because bananas are being exported to the region it should be of a certain quality and another quality for the UK,” he told Agriculture on the Move.
Prospere recently returned from Antigua, where Saint Lucia sold over 400 boxes of bananas, and he raised the possibility of increasing exports to that country.
In addition, he disclosed Saint Lucia had engaged another buyer who had been purchasing some two thousand boxes of fruit.
“What we were saying to her was: ‘Can we use Antigua as a hub that would cause us to increase our production – our export of bananas to Antigua, but that hub now would allow countries like St Kitts, St Thomas, St Maarten to really benefit from that hub,” Prospere stated.
“We are also looking at areas like Trinidad,” he revealed, explaining that recently another 1,000 boxes left Saint Lucia for the Twin Island Republic.
“In the coming weeks I am hoping to be in Trinidad to also engage this buyer to see how we can help increase our exports,” Prospere said.
But he stated that while pursuing Caribbean exports, Saint Lucia still has to prepare to continue taking advantage of the important UK market.