The Government of St. Lucia said it will continue to assist local farmers to ensure that the banana industry remains competitive and that production is increased in coming years. Agriculture Minister Moses Jn Baptiste said that while banana production is not where it should be, he noted that government has shown its commitment to the industry over the last few years. “The challenges with producing banana in a situation where you have black sigatoka and other issues. It is not the same challenges that were experienced 15 years ago,” the minister remarked.Jn Baptiste said that government has a strategy to ensure that productivity increases and farmers are provided with fungicides to manage black sigatoka. The agriculture minister believes that there is a future for bananas not only in Saint Lucia, but in several other countries, because it continues to be a very important staple worldwide. “We believe that we will continue to produce bananas here. Growing bananas has to do with disease management and those things we are working and doing what we can to assist the farmers,” he added. Despite the challenges facing the local industry, Saint Lucia registered record banana exports for 2014. Over 5,000 tonnes of bananas were exported to the UK in 2014, largely due to continuing government support to battle disease, provision of fertilizers and active cooperation with the farmers. Bananas were once regarded as ‘Green Gold’ in the four Windward Islands, however, preferential treatment disappeared on the European market, thanks to competition from Latin America and a ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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