Business

No need for banana importation, says Gov't

St James to the rescue?

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter

Sunday, November 11, 2012    

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AMITY HALL, St James — The importation of bananas for local consumption will not be necessary to offset an expected shortfal in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, says Ian Hayles.

Sandy has wiped out most of the crop in the banana producing parishes of eastern Jamaica, particularly Portland, St Mary and St Thomas. But Hayles, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, noted that the western parish of St James, which saw minimal damage from the passage of the category one hurricane, will be called upon to provide bananas to bridge the gap from the expected shortage in the east.

" There is an argument that is been banded about that we might have to import bananas. I am here to say we will not have to import banana here in Jamaica. We will have enough bananas for the consumers of this country and there is no need for any panic in terms of Jamaicans finding bananas to consume," Hayles said.

He added: "St James plays an integral role in terms of the production of banana. One would know that it is Portland which produces the majority bananas, then St Mary, then St James. I am here today to conduct an assessment to see in terms of creating synergies how St James can fill up the slot in terms of any shortfall we might have," Hayles said, adding that last year St James produced nearly 55,000 tonnes of banana.

He was speaking to the media on Thursday during a tour of some southern St James communities renown for banana production.

Hayles used the opportunity to appeal to the banana farmers to avoid price gouging.

"I am appealing to the vendors, the farmers, to the middle man — ensure that whatever price point that one goes to the market with, the consumer can leave that marketplace," he urged.

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