St Vincent shipping bananas to UK and Caribbean, three years after Hurricane Tomas

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Thursday October 31, 2013, CMC – Three years after Hurricane Tomas nearly wiped out the banana industry, St. Vincent and the Grenadines says it has been making significant shipments of the commodity to the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.

Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar told Parliament that banana exports to the United Kingdom between January and September this year varied from a low of 135 boxes, generating EC$2,700 (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) in September to a high of 1,980 boxes in January and April, respectively, generating EC$39,000 a month.

Exports to the regional market saw a low of 6,190 boxes, generating EC$94,000, in April, and a high of 10,000 boxes, in February, earning EC$158,000.

Saboto told legislators that the revenue earned from the export of bananas to the two markets so far this year has totaled two million dollars and that production levels must be considered in the context of the devastating impact of Hurricane Tomas, three years ago when the storm, which destroyed 98 per cent of the  banana cultivation.

“And that is not taking into consideration the April floods (of 2011),” he added, noting that the industry was also affected by the black sigatoka disease.

“The numbers that I am going to speak to are relatively low, if a comparative analysis is done prior to Hurricane Thomas. But I just want the farmers who are listening and for persons who are following the figures to appreciate the numbers within this particular context,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, many farmers are returning to the industry, and as I noted earlier in an answer, we are on a path to recovery. We lost 98 per cent of the bananas in 2010…when we were struck by hurricane Tomas, and we are doing our best as a Ministry, as a sector.

I must commend the farmers who continue to work day in, day out, to continue to build this industry,” Caesar told Parliament.Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)