By Caribbean News Global
Toronto, Canada – The docile levity of Allen Chastanet’s rant about bananas on social media has awakened the sleeping tigers of a time before the infamous Chastanet, to draw reality and common sense into the equation that requires investigation at large scale, on the incompetence of the previous administration.
enough cassius elias (Pages 298 -335) is recommended reading on bananas – A brief summary of the banana industry in Saint Lucia.
But first, the previous administration in dream of scapegoats said it prioritizes agriculture as part of “our medium-term development strategy”, focusing on the following areas:
Extension of the cultivated area.
Pest and disease control.
Increased productivity of banana plantations.
Establishment of a sustainable m financing mechanism for inputs.
“Our banana farmers are now being left behind amid growing concerns about our cocoa production and the future of seven harvest program . Based on reports, the UWP is extremely concerned about the immediate future of the National Fair Trade Organization, widely reported to be on the verge of collapse,” according to chastenet’s social media speech. seven crop program.
“As early as the 1970s, in the days of Sir John Compton, the Labor Party treated the banana industry like a political balloon. The undeniable truth is that throughout the mid-1970s and 1990s, Labor strategists focused on encouraging farmers to fight each other at their own expense and at great cost to the national economy. . Finally, on the advice of a Prime Minister, farmers gave up bananas in favor of investing in vehicles to service the tourism industry, only to be betrayed by the same Saint Lucia Labor Party (SLP) government “, he continued.
“Fast forward to more recent times. After constantly attacking United Workers Party (UWP) plans to revitalize the sector, the Philip J. Pierre administration convinced local farmers that they had somehow stumbled upon a new path to follow. The truth quickly struck home that once again resilient banana farmers have been kicked out by the SLP, this time led by Pierre and his agriculture minister Prospere. Their notorious incompetence resulted in the death of a March 2021 deal brokered by the Allen Chastanet administration to ship bananas to a supermarket chain in the UK,” Chastanet said.
UK suspends banana trade
The UK has suspended banana trade with Saint Lucia as announced by Alfred P. Prospere, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, said:
“In July 2021, when the Saint Lucia Labor Party (SLP) government took office, we found a banana industry that had collapsed under the United Workers Party (UWP) government. The banana trade with the United Kingdom was interrupted for two years.
“The critical infrastructure necessary for the efficient operation of the industry has been dismantled. The main banana exporting company, WIBDECO/Winfresh Ltd., has been taken into custody. Key assets such as the Stanstead (UK) ripening facility and Winfresh’s stake in shipping company Geest were sold to third parties to meet debt payment.
“It meant that the main components of the banana exporting business, such as shipping, marketing and logistics, were lost. The local producer base/farmer organization, NFTO, was facing financial losses and technical challenges. They had to immediately assume responsibility for the commercial side of the trade, although they lacked the resources and expertise to adequately fulfill this role. The situation at the time seems rather grim, noted Minister Prospere.
Sale of Banana assets
Former agriculture minister Cassius Elias acknowledges that agriculture minister Prospere “got contracts with UK supermarkets, but the ripening and shipping costs were prohibitive. In addition to selling the assets of the bananas and inefficient human resources and incompetence in trade negotiations, Saint Lucia Bananas had no influence to exploit.And so, despite the efforts of the Saint Lucia Labor Party government and the farmers, they had no chance to compete on fruit quality, production cost, price and the impacts of global challenges,” he continued.
“The reality is that while Winfresh CEO Bernard Cornibert and his board of directors, of which former agriculture, fisheries, land use planning, natural resources and cooperatives, Ezechiel Joseph was a member, were not so quick to sell the entire infrastructure of UK, the industry might have survived. And, therefore, “The death of the banana industry is squarely on the doorstep of the UWP, hitherto discussed, by the banana tycoons of Saint Lucia, who claimed: “If you pushed me out, the whole industry goes away” and thus “the vindictive plan is visible”.
A New Vision for Lucian Farmers (Green Gold) Enough is Enough page 315, writes:
“Between 1957 and 1990, Windward Island banana growers enjoyed an unprecedented level of cash flow that made the descendants of former slave plantation and sugar factory workers feel like millionaires. Unfortunately, those in control of the industry have failed to provide reasonable advice on how to use their newfound wealth.
“If the industry is to survive, we need to focus resources on the farmers most likely to produce at a more competitive level. However, in pursuit of this new enabling policy, we need to provide a pension plan for older farmers who are being pushed out of the industry, and launch a diversification strategy that will help young farmers who are unable to survive , to produce two or three alternative crops for the export market, and a range of crops for domestic consumption. In particular, it is necessary to restrict the import of foodstuffs for the hotel sector. Unless this is properly managed, young farmers across the country will continue to intensify marijuana cultivation.
Dreaming of scapegoats
Pat Joseph and I have always complained about the reckless spending of Winfresh – from Bananas – the sale of licenses – to the collapse of the industry.
“The banana industry provided farmers in Saint Lucia with a cash crop that surpassed all others. More than four decades later, producers are still uninsured, while the fortunes and physical assets of the SLBGA-turned-SLBC are virtually all gone,” Enough is Enough!
The government of Philip J. Pierre must step up and provide the necessary resources and assistance for a full-scale investigation into the collapse of the banana industry, otherwise, an excellent case for the special prosecutor.
This is justified by the vested interests of banana growers and their contributions to the country’s economy and now at a high cost to the country’s trade, exports and GDP.
“Output is expected to gradually recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, slowed by the effects of the war in Ukraine and tighter global financial conditions. Public and private investments are constrained by weak balance sheets, as well as higher input costs and supply constraints.
“Inflation is expected to reach 6.4% in 2022. The fiscal outlook is challenging due to high public debt and large refinancing needs which lead to funding constraints. Without additional policy measures, public debt is expected to stabilize around 90% of GDP in the medium term, limiting space for public infrastructure and social investment,” IMF .
Banana policy against tourism
The main question should have centered on what Saint Lucia expected from the banana industry. Saint Lucia and the Caribbean “did not have a fixed position” and thus continue to derive from coal – sugar cane – bananas – tourism.
Yesterday and today, the authorities must understand the bottom line exclusive concessions – that is – paper tigers in an unreal affair!
Government negotiations and investment policy should adjust their (un)pacified thinking and practical ability, help create jobs and promote prosperity, and promote micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) by promoting growth and development. development, expanding skills, stimulating economic development.
“It seems that the licensing system and the revenue from it has not been fully appreciated even by governments in more recent times,” Enough, page 324.