Banana exports to the United Kingdom between January and September this year varied from a low of 135 boxes, generating EC$2,700 in September, to a high of 1,980 boxes in January and April, respectively, generating EC$39,000 each month.
Meanwhile, exports to the regional market saw a low of 6,190 boxes, generating EC$94,000, in April, and a high of 10,000 boxes, in February, earning EC$158,000.
The combined total export to the two markets has so far generated about EC$2 million.
Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, in presenting the figures in Parliament on Tuesday, said they must be considered in the context of the devastating impact of Hurricane Tomas, three years ago.
He noted that today, Oct. 30, marks three years since the storm, which destroyed 98 per cent of the nation’s banana cultivation.
“And that is not taking into consideration the April Floods [of 2011],” he said of the weather event that flooded the coastal town and farming district of Georgetown.
Caesar also noted that it has been two years since the launch of Operation Cutback, which saw 600 acres of bananas being felled as the Ministry of Agriculture tries to combat black sigatoka, a disease that causes the leaves of banana trees to wither and fruits to ripen prematurely.
“The numbers that I am going to speak to are relatively low, if a comparative analysis is done prior to Hurricane Thomas. But I just want the farmers who are listening and for persons who are following the figures to appreciate the numbers within this particular context,” he said.
He however did not mention that black sigatoka ran amok amidst the failure of the Ministry of Agriculture, then under the leadership of Montgomery Daniel, to spray against the disease.
“Mr. Speaker, many farmers are returning to the industry, and as I noted earlier in an answer, we are on a path to recovery. We lost 98 per cent of the bananas in 2010, Oct. 30 when we were struck by hurricane Tomas, and we are doing our best as a Ministry, as a sector. I must commend the farmers who continue to work day in, day out, to continue to build this industry,” Caesar further told Parliament.
The number of boxes of banana exported monthly to the United Kingdom and the revenue generated are as follows:
Banana export to the UK and revenue generated. (k=thousand)
Banana export to the Caribbean and revenue generated. (k=thousand)