The Star (St. Lucia) - Business Week - - CANNABIS INDUSTRY -

The gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia is at­tempt­ing to tackle the dilemma fac­ing banana ex­port to the United King­dom and is pre­dict­ing higher pro­duc­tion in the first half of 2019, ac­cord­ing to a Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture press re­lease. On Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 20 Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Ezechiel Joseph, along with his team, met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Na­tional Fair Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (NFTO), Banana Pro­duc­tiv­ity Im­prove­ment Project, and Win­fresh, to dis­cuss the mat­ter. Win­fresh had said that prior to Trop­i­cal Storm Kirk, it was sell­ing 15,000 boxes of ba­nanas per week to the UK but pro­jec­tion for 2019 falls to 6,000 per week.

But Joseph said the mar­ket cut is un­ac­cept­able, adding that pro­duc­tion of the fruit will be very high in the new year.

“Mov­ing for­ward we are see­ing that the pro­duc­tion will be very high in the first half of next year and the type of fig­ures Win­fresh is talk­ing about can­not be ac­com­mo­dated, they have to go out there and get the

mar­kets,” he stated in the news re­lease. “So to­day the meet­ing was re­ally to dis­cuss that is­sue and I am happy they have un­der­stood our po­si­tion as a gov­ern­ment, and they will con­tinue to col­lab­o­rate with the NFTO to

sat­isfy the mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that we be­lieve can be ex­plored.” Fol­low­ing the meet­ing Chas­tanet said he was

con­tent with its out­come. “We’ve had meet­ings with Win­fresh with re­gards to the state­ments they made. We don’t share their sen­ti­ments and I am very happy to see that what­ever mis­un­der­stand­ing was in place, and what they were in­tended to try and do (which was not re­ally to limit the in­dus­try, but cer­tainly they were bring­ing up a prob­lem in the mar­ket), we are sat­is­fied that we have a strat­egy to re­solve that,” he stated in the re­lease. The prime min­is­ter said he is cur­rently ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in France and other

coun­tries which will con­se­quently boost the banana ex­port mar­ket.

He also called on young farm­ers to find creative and in­no­va­tive ways to ex­ploit the en­tire banana plant rather than just the fruit.

“I’m en­cour­ag­ing my young peo­ple to start look­ing at what by-prod­ucts we can use with ba­nanas, both with ba­nanas it­self but also the leaves and stems of the banana tree,” he re­marked. “We need to earn money on every com­po­nent of a banana tree, not just the banana, in or­der to be com­pet­i­tive, but I know we have the ca­pac­ity and the in­no­va­tion to do that in Saint Lu­cia, and I want to re­as­sure

the banana farm­ers and re­as­sure the pub­lic of Saint Lu­cia that its gov­ern­ment stands firm be­hind the sec­tor,” Chas­tanet said.

Left to right: Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet, Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Ezechiel Joseph, and Herod Stanis­las, Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Soufriere/Fond St. Jac­ques

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