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Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Dr. Kenny Anthony has called on WINFRESH to play its part to stabilize the struggling banana industry of the Windward Islands.
Speaking at the opening session of the Windward Islands Agriculture and Bananas Technical Management Symposium, Dr. Anthony stated that WINFRESH has “a moral as well as practical duty to play its part”.
He said: “This is not a time for a silent retreat from bananas by governments or by WINFRESH. WINFRESH exists first and foremost for the farmers of the region, not just for banana production and the marketing the fruit and products of the region.
“The model, as I understand it, has long been that the profits made at the point of sale must be ploughed back into the production system to maintain and improve quality, provide inputs as well as assist with research and development. The sector cannot and will not survive if each party remains “siloed” and at war with the other. There must be synergy. There must be collaboration. There must also be a willingness to act when synergy and collaboration do not happen. We need a more integrated industry, not one of isolation, indolence or regression.”
The prime minister went further to note the absence of involvement by WINFRESH in the provision of a number of services to farmers and called on the organization to play a role in revitalizing the banana sector. The prime minister told WINFRESH that:
“1. There was a time when you maintained reception depots and managed quality control locally;
2. There was a time when you managed farm and farmer and certification;
3. There was a time when you provided laboratory services and provided technical support for producers, from soil tests to recommending fertilisers; and
4. There was even a time when you procured inputs such as leaf-spot control materials.
He added: “I say to WINFRESH that it has to play a role in helping the farmers in our islands to get back up on their feet, to replant, to resist Black Sigatoka, to research for better outputs and to add value to the production, and to renew this banana industry.”
Note: The Windward Islands Agriculture and Bananas Technical Management Symposium is currently underway at the Bay Garden Beach Resort in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.