BETWEEN 80 and 90 percent of Saint Lucia’s banana industry sustained damage as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Kirk last Thursday, according to preliminary estimates it has been disclosed.
Agriculture Minister, Ezechiel Joseph, made the announcement following a de-briefing meeting on Friday with the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO).
“Unfortunately we will not be able to make the target we set ourselves. We will have to go back to the drawing board – see how we can get support for the farmers,” Joseph told RCI’s midday news edition.
“I am not making any commitment, but the reality is that we will have to give some support to the farmers,” the minister stated.
Joseph explained that the good thing was that most of the banana damage related to ‘snapping’ and not ‘toppling’ of plants, which means that recovery can be quicker.
“It is something I am sure you can remember when we experienced Tropical Storm Matthew in 2016. I am sure you can remember that the Prime Minister spoke to the whole question of what we can do as a government to provide safety nets to farmers when they experience these negative impacts,” he recalled.
He said the ministry of agriculture will be looking at the matter of insurance and planting barriers to protect banana plants.
However, Joseph noted that these were not short term but medium to long term strategies.