Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace has criticised the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves government over its “silence” regarding the merger of Fyffes and Chiquita, two giants in the banana industry internationally.
“Their silence is indicative of their failure in agriculture across every sector, and they have failed the banana industry most dismally,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Chiquita Brands International (CQB) and Irish fruit seller Fyffes agreed on March 10 to a US$1.07 billion merger, creating the world’s largest banana company.
The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is not known to have commented on the development, which came as CARICOM leaders met for their inter-sessional summit at Buccament Bay.
Speaking on his weekly radio programme on Monday, Eustace asked about how the government will respond to the development.
He noted that SVG is part of a joint venture with Fyffes and said the merger creates excellent opportunities.
“We must use our best efforts to ensure that we get back on the ground in early time in terms of our production of high quality bananas,” said Eustace, a former prime minister and minister of finance, who is also a banana farmer.
“We can’t ignore it. We can’t let things just drift as the government has been doing here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with bananas,” Eustace further said and called the Gonsalves government as well as the administrations in St. Lucia and Dominica to take action.
St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony told reporters at the CARICOM summit in SVG that he was a bit “surprised” at the merger.
But Anthony said that while regional banana producers would not forget the role played by the Chiquita in the erosion of the preferential treatment for Caribbean bananas on the European market, the new deal also opens new possibilities for Caribbean bananas.