News - Real Estate - Agriculture (February 19,
EU pours $280-m into banana industry
The European Union (EU) has approved $280 million
for the resuscitation of the banana industry following the devastation caused by
Hurricane Ivan last September.
Vincent Thompson, manager for the EU's Banana
Support Programme, told JIS News that the initiative was part of the EU's
long-term commitment to improve the efficiency of the sector and enhance
He said the assistance would be distributed in
the form of inputs such as fertiliser and chemicals for disease control, and
would enhance efforts by the Banana Export Company to provide farmers with the
necessary material support to aid in the replanting process.
Thompson expressed appreciation to the EU for
the support it has given to the banana industry over the years and expressed
confidence that the assistance would enable farmers to become resilient and
overcome the challenges with which they were confronted.
Hurricane Ivan destroyed a total of 2,280
hectares of crop in the six principal banana-producing parishes, with 100 per
cent of standing crop and 95 per cent of maiden crop lost. Some 8,000 farmers
Thompson said that the industry was recovering
satisfactorily, with all domestic and export producers already replanting. He
estimated that production would be at 20 per cent of pre-Ivan levels by March
and all farms were projected to be back in full production by the end of July.
Gerd Jarchow, the EU's head of delegation to
Jamaica, said the assistance, worth J$288 million, is designed to help Jamaican
banana farmers cope with the changing world market.
"It is clear to all that very few
farmers, not even the large estates, would be able to meet the cost of the
agro-chemicals required for proper resuscitation," Jarchow said.
"We are witnessing today a great achievement
and the result of efforts by many of the stakeholders of the European Banana
Support Programme," he added.
Jarchow said the EU was still working on a
mechanism to provide direct assistance to small and medium-sized farmers to help
them meet their labour costs.
Jarchow disclosed that since 1996 the EU has
donated approximately J$3.8 billion (euro48 million) to securing the economic
viability of Jamaica's banana industry and improving the standard of living in
many rural areas.
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke thanked the
EU for its "ongoing intervention in one of our main traditional exports
which continues to make a significant contribution to the Jamaican
He said that the average annual earnings for
banana exports amount to US$26 million, and this was expected to increase to
US$35 million in the next three years.