The majority of the fruits did not meet the standard required for export to the UK market. (Internet photo)

Some 89 per cent of plantains that the state-owned Farmers Support Company was scheduled to export to the United Kingdom last Sunday failed to make the grade and was redirected to the regional market.

The Ministry of agriculture said on Thursday that the 40-foot container of plantains that was scheduled to be exported was reduced from 900 to 100 boxes.

“As a result of a large quantity of over grade fruits supplied by the farmers, the company decided to send a sample shipment to the United Kingdom as the over grade fruits were deemed unfit to make the journey to the UK since it will result in significant losses due to ship ripe,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The FSC then quickly switched to option B, which was to sell to the plantains to the region: namely a Trinidadian importer,” the statement said.

The ministry said that Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, who is in Rome to deliver an address at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was informed of the development.

“Minister Caesar noted that these snags will arise when there are extremely high productions of any commodity. He added that because of the glut on the market, farmers will attempt to first sell the oldest grade, however, he is pleased that the plantains were able to be sold eventually,” the ministry said.

“According to Minister Caesar, the farmers will be paid the same price as if it had gone to the United Kingdom and that is what matters most,” the statement added.

The ministry said the FSC will continue to seek new markets especially in a period where the EC$12 million provided to farmers in loans has increase production significantly.

“Agriculture production has shown a steady upward increase in the first quarter of 2015 relative to the figures of 2014.

Minister Caesar concluded that he is optimistic that the second quarter of 2015 will also show an increase and the FSC will continue to purchase plantains for export,” the statement added.

The latest development comes amidst report that an “experimental shipment” of bananas sent to the United Kingdom earlier this year was rejected.

“I am not aware of the issue in the way in which you have framed it,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said last week when asked about that shipment of fruit.

7 replies on “89% of plantain shipment fails to make grade for UK export”

  1. It’s my opinion that these plantains were never destined for the UK. With a guaranteed price even if they were dumped the farmers in the scheme took that as a green light to pack all and any crap. In fact I dare to say they were made aware of this before they ever cut them.

    If any form of Musa plant, banana or plantain, have Black Sigatoka the fruit will ripen early after cutting. None of them will stand a shipment to the UK or Europe. That is known by the farmers and it is known by the Ministry of Agriculture.

    This was little more than a scheme to reward a certain section of the politically favoured farming community.

    Caesar recently said we are now almost free of Black Sigatoka, that is a blatant untruth. Such a story is not to fool the farmers; it’s to fool the Vincentian voters prior to the approaching elections.

  2. C. ben-David says:

    The key issue that is missing in this report is not the highly unlikely conspiracy thrown out with no evidence by Peter but thr fact that this is a chronic problem with small-scale export agriculture based on several dozen farmers growing plantain on a few acres each.

    Export agriculture — from the era of sugar to the present — needs large efficiently run plantations to meet continous marketing demands. Unless protected markets return, which is very unlikely, this problem will continue because we just don’t have the supply volumes to ship full but unripened fruit and vegetables by boat to England on a regular and predictable basis, as supermarket chains demand.

    Peter, please put politics aside for a moment and focus your talents on the limitations on export agriculture in mini-states like ours and why the PM has rightly said agriculture is dead.

    1. David I agree with you that agriculture is currently dead, but I also believe it can be revived. This matter cannot be discussed without bringing politics into it. Because they are already part of the mix and the political behaviour in this matter is what has driven agriculture into the grave yard. Yes everyone knows that the banana was doomed to a serious decline because of the removal of exclusivity in the UK and European markets. But it was made many times worse by the ULP failing to properly fund the Ministry of Agriculture and the MoA then failing to spray the crop at the correct intervals and with the correct dosages, nor with the correct three to one mix of chemicals. They also allowed the irrigation system that is needed for bananas to become inoperable, today it is little more than scrap. We had a whole group of employees called irrigation workers which after not paying them for three months and leaving them lolling at the yard every day, they eventually fired them when they asked for the pay they were owed.

      You are right the big European markets are now out of our reach, I also believe that growing bananas on hillsides is one of our downfalls. Hill farming bananas requires aerial spraying and that is not even 50% effective in SVG. That is why the diseases that we have had such as Black sigatoka, and other leaf diseases before that, have proved virtually untreatable and are still rampant. Bananas grown in the Americas on flat land are at an advantage because they are able to drive spray trucks between the rows and with specially developed spray equipment spray both from above and below the banana leaf canopy, it’s 100% effective. Bananas can be grown on a smaller scale at Georgetown and Rabacca where the land is flat, but they do not have the spray equipment or lay their banana plantations out to allow such equipment to be used. We just do not have enough flat land to produce volumes of bananas or plantains.

      There is still a good market available in Barbados for our Bananas, it’s a short distance and would be a better destination for the time being, for our small production. Yes Barbados can grow Bananas but they have monkeys that destroy all fruit crops to such a degree that only sugarcane and some root crops are a viable option for them.

      Saint Lucia has recovered much better than us from the diseases because they have sprayed more often and more intensely. I am not sure what a heavy contaminate does to the crop, required insects, bees or people, it cannot be good that’s for sure.

      By the way David I do not like the way that you have decided you are the policeman on these sites, making swinging remarks not just against me, but also remarks about Markie Spring’s writings criticizing him because he doesn’t make reference to where his research has come from. What people write they write as their own opinions, it is their prerogative to say where they obtained such information from or not. When I wrote about the banana deal regarding the farmers getting paid, I wrote that from information I received from one of the farmers, I chose not to divulge that. There is a hint at it from Ceasar in the actual article when it states “According to Minister Ceasar, the farmers will be paid the same price as if it went to the United Kingdom and that is what matters most” I said they would have been paid even if it was thrown away, and I believe that to be true, because that is the information that I relied on when I made that statement.

      There are a number of things David that you wrote over the last year or so that I have not agreed with, but chose not to take you to task because they are your opinions to which all of us have a right to; and criticism would have been counterproductive. I keep those criticisms for those that come here and write crap and knowingly do not believe what they write, which is written only in support of the ULP.

      If the ULP are eventually replaced there are new crops and new industries around those crops coming to SVG. If the ULP are re-elected that will not happen, and that’s something else I know, not something I have dreamed about. It’s also something I did not want to divulge at this time, but eventually I will write about it.

  3. Luther Bonadie says:

    Peter , you’re making a fool of yourself to many times, how about you having nothing to say just for once.
    Vincentians are tired of you.
    Recently, you had to apologize, that should tell you that you are grasping, and filleding with antiquated ideas, which puts you in the rank and file of the Donkey cart thinking people.

    1. Bonadie, it’s you they are tired of, coming here to try and stifle the truth.

      We will see how tired they are when the next massive ULP scandal hits the internet shortly.

      Whilst you are trying to gag me I just keep beavering away at my exposés. It’s people like you that actually inspire me in my quest to expose what is actually going on.

  4. Another day another failure in SVG it seems to be the norm now. Watch how Vincy come, a country of failures. But don’t worry I am sure they are going to tell us about a gramashell project starting soon, anything to stay in office.

  5. Luther Bonadie says:

    Peter,

    Have you ever heard this expression ” The tail wagging the dog ” that explains your story.

Comments are closed.