KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Only 66 per cent of bananas exported to the United Kingdom between weeks 26 and 45 met the quality standard, 19 percentage points lower than the target of 85 per cent.
Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel told Parliament on Tuesday that Winfresh — marketers of this country’s bananas in the U.K. — has “reverted to allowing the bananas to go through” because inspecting then here would incur additional expenses.
Daniel said that Winfresh believes that after 50 years of bananas production, farmers should understand the quality requirement.
But the black sigatoka disease, which went unchecked for several weeks over the summer, has affected the quality of bananas exported from this country.
Daniel said that when the fruits arrive in the U.K., they are sent to ripening rooms until they reach the degree of ripeness required by supermarkets.
“Fruits are not assessed until this point. And virtually every box of bananas is opened,” he said.
Daniel further stated that of the 34 per cent of the bananas that are “rejectable”, based on the degree of ripeness, bananas could be shifted to different boxes.
He, however, said that fruits with crown rot are “completely not accepted”.
Daniel further said that EC$3.1 million has been allocated in the 2012 Budget to finance six cycles of spraying of bananas and plantain against black sigatoka and other diseases.
The Ministry of Agriculture, he said, has also arranged for the purchase of the chemicals, which would be used in the six cycles next year.
He further explained that two ground crews are also spraying in hotspots