(GIS St Lucia) – A little over one year since the Banana Productivity Improvement Project came into operation, banana production and exports are on the rebound, so said Project Manager for the Banana Productivity Improvement Project, Kerde Severin.
Mr. Severin has described 2017, the first year of the project, as a good year—one in which pre-project numbers moved from 286 active farms to 726 active farms.
“We have moved from a situation where we have 1170 acres dedicated to banana production, to 2232 acres. So in a short space of time we have almost doubled the acres, and increased the number of farms by over 150 percent,” he said. “A number of farmers have come back, and are registered as Global Gap Certified. The certification is necessary in order to sell to the EU market.”
According to Mr. Severin, exports to the EU market—Saint Lucia’s premiere market—increased by 26 percent. He added that the resurgence in the banana industry can be attributed to restored confidence in the industry.
“Government basically came out and enunciated a policy that helped to revitalize the banana industry and that in itself instilled confidence,” he explained. “In addition, a critical factor is the procurement of inputs, because a number of our farmers were unable to procure inputs, when they needed them and in the required quantities. Now, we place a lot of emphasis on procuring critical inputs.”
The Banana Productivity Improvement Project has a full slate of projects and initiatives, in the areas of pest control, education, and sensitization, in order to get banana production to an optimum level.