The fledgling banana industry showed some resilience in this year’s estimates of expenditure with an increase in revenue of 8 percent, totaling $21. 46 million.
Minister for Agriculture, Food Production, Fisheries and Rural Development, Moses Jn. Baptiste, in his presentation during the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, lauded the increases in production in all agricultural sectors except egg production.
Baptiste said banana production increased in the last fiscal year by 85 per cent despite competition from Latin American countries and the damaging effects of the Black Sigatoka disease. Minister Jn. Baptiste mentioned a new focus and emphasis in the fight against the disease. He said new resistant varieties to the disease have been developed and will be dispersed throughout the island.
The minister also spoke of plans to expand the marketing strategy of the industry and to promote the production of diversified crops.
Special emphasis in the coming year will be placed on market festivals to sensitize and promote local agricultural consumption. A total $256,000 has been allocated from funds derived from the Taiwanese government to fulfill that mandate with particular focus on the coconut industry for which research shows an increasing demand throughout the region.
In addition, $5.884 million has been allocated for an agricultural transformation program.