The idea of the banana industry returning to the days of its former glory in the late 1970’s and 1980’s is absurd, former agriculture minister Moses Jn Baptiste has said.
Jn Baptiste said he has listened with keen interest the promises that were made by the United Workers Party (UWP) to the farmers of Saint Lucia, where they have used bananas as a main issue again.
“In my view, they wanted to fool banana farmers into believing that the UWP government will suddenly bring back banana production to the levels of the late 1980’s,” he told the media recently.
The former minister said he has also listened to the promises of banana export to Martinique, but would rather not say much on that but would await the “boat loads of bananas” to be exported to the neighbouring island.
Martinique is currently faced with some serious issues as it relates to agriculture, Jn Baptiste disclosed, stating that there have been reports of possible poisoning of some of the soils.
The Vieux Fort North MP said there are also concerns about the whole food chain and the use of pesticides.
“I want to find out whether the UWP government will give our lands to Martinique and French business persons to return plantations to Saint Lucia to be operated by outside people,” he said.
The former minister said he would hope that the new government would focus their attention on developing and expanding home grown model farms businesses, to encourage local ownership.
“I am not convinced that the UWP can return the banana industry to the 1980’s. The SLP government under Dr. Kenny Anthony stabilized banana production in Saint Lucia,” he asserted.
Over the last two years, banana production increased as a result of successful programme of managing black sigatoka, Jn Baptiste opined.
“The UWP government have a terrible record of managing this disease…So again I await the actions on banana production,” he ended.
Despite these criticisms, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has said discussions with Martinique should commence shortly between Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph and his counterpart.