THE move to get local bananas into the French Market has hit a snag and may take longer to become than previously expected.
The attempt to get St. Lucian bananas in the French/European market was made about seven months ago when the government of St. Lucia held meetings with French officials shortly after taking office in mid-June.
Increasing banana production and revitalizing the industry were promises made by the government while on the campaign trail last year.
Trips to England and other parts of Europe to turn promises into reality were made by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph both of whom just four months ago said that there were very interesting things ahead as far as the agriculture sector is concerned.
Joseph in particular said that the French would first purchase the fruit from St. Lucia on a trial basis. However this may take quite some time before becoming reality.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet in responding to a question on the banana issue as it relates to the French market posed by The VOICE said the move to get the fruit to the French market “got a bit of a hiccup.”
“With Tropical Storm Matthew, we suffered a lot of damage, over 85 percent which means that crop reduction would be delayed by more than four months,” Chastanet said.
Other woes to have befallen the initiative included an unusual high amounts of rainfall.
“We have had an unusual high amount of rain. My understanding from the Ministry of Agriculture is that the crop (banana) that was supposed to be going from England to France has been delayed and I’m hoping that this could be resurrected,” Chastanet said.
He added: “We have a shipment of fertilizers from Morocco this month and we are continuing our construction of feeder roads. So there are a lot of existing feeder roads that have been upgraded and we are continuously meeting with the Caribbean Development Bank and other international agencies about being able to get funds from climate change to put more money into the banana sector and the agriculture sector,” Prime Minister Chastanet said.