KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The Unity Labour Party administration will compensate banana farmers for loss of income because of agriculture officials’ inaction on the black sigatoka disease affecting bananas here.
And Agriculture Minister Montgomery Daniel told Parliament on Thursday that his ministry would put systems in place to ensure that there is always in in the country one application of chemicals and oil for aerial spraying of the disease.
Daniel further said that there would be improved checks and balances to ensure a reduction in occurrences, such as those that saw the disease ravaging the industry because of the inaction of agriculture officials.
Aerial spraying to combat the disease recommenced on Wednesday after months of delay, which Daniel suggested was the result of person trying to undermine his Ministry and the government.
He asked the opposition to join him in condemning the actions of the civil servants, who, he said, caused farmers to face the difficulties that they did.
“For those farmers who were affected, the Ministry of Agriculture is now compiling the information so that a determination can be made as to what nature of compensation the farmers will have,” Daniel said, adding that this was a decision of a stakeholders meeting on Sept. 20.
Daniel, a banana farmer, said that his Ministry would continue with education and training programme to ensure GLOBALG.A.P. compliance and certification.
He further said that his Ministry was ensuring that there are 100,000 java banana plants so that farmers could maintain the target of planting 300 acres of bananas this year and that the Ministry would destroy all abandoned banana fields to control the black sigatoka disease.
Daniel, however, said that the country never stopped exporting bananas even after Hurricane Tomas last November.
“Even when 99 per cent of the bananas were blown down, we never ever stopped any exportation of bananas. Traffickers (hawkers) continued to export the country’s bananas,” he said.