KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Banana export from this country to the United Kingdom continues, as normal, this week.
This was the message that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves tried to communicate to the nation Thursday and Friday after a public relations storm, created in part by his communications consultant Elson Crick.
The debacle began when Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said Thursday, on the New Democratic Party’s “New Times” radio programme, that he was informed that banana exports from this country were suspended.
But while Eustace was still speaking on the issue, Crick, the prime minister’s communications consultant, called into the pro-Unity Labour Party “Shake-up” programme and confirmed Eustace’s statement.
Gonsalves, speaking on “Shake-up” shortly after Crick, said that reports of the suspension were inaccurate.
It became known later that the situation grew out of a letter that Bernard Cornibert, CEO of Winfresh — the main exporter of Windward Islands — wrote to Henry Keizer, manager of WINFARM — the main exporter of bananas from St. Vincent.
In his letter to Keizer, Cornibert referred to an earlier discussion about the marketing problems created in the UK by the poor quality bananas from St. Vincent.
“I write to confirm our proposal that WINFARM temporarily suspends the delivery of bananas to Winfresh effective Load Week 46, while it implements corrective actions aimed [at] resolving the ongoing quality problems,” – Cornibert said in his letter.
Cornibert told I Witness-News on Friday that Winfresh and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had come to an agreement on Thursday.
While both parties did not a set date for a review of the situation, Winfresh agreed to continue receiving Vincentian bananas while farmers here try to improve fruit quality.