KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Minister of agriculture and fisheries, Roger Clarke, has praised the European Union (EU) for its continued support to Jamaica’s banana industry, which has again been demonstrated with the award of a four-year €1.9 million grant to the Banana Board.
This is in addition to the government of Jamaica’s €2.5 million, which is being provided to give technical support to farmers over four years, to improve productivity and production. The support falls under the Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAMs).
Additionally, the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA) will receive just over €2 million under the JBAMs, to develop markets.
Addressing the board’s 60th anniversary celebration function on Tuesday, the minister explained that the major objective of the programme is to reduce the cost of production for farmers and agri-businesses.
“We sincerely acknowledge the support of the European Union for this initiative,” he said, noting that the ministry will shortly sign the new four-year successor programme for the JBAMs, in the sum of €4.7 million.
He added that the ministry has just completed implementation of the EU Banana Support Programme, which benefitted more than 30,000 banana and plantain farmers in traditional banana dependent communities.
“We constructed roads, bridges, weather stations, banana databases, provided institutional support to the AIBGA, as well as new technologies and extension services through the Banana Board and RADA,” the minister outlined.
He said that with implementation of the new programme, greater focus will be placed on building and improving competitiveness of the banana and plantain industries.
“The Banana Accompanying Measures (BAMs) is a direct response to the various challenges which are presently experienced by the local banana sector,” Clarke noted.
The minister asserted that with the funding and other support efforts, and subject to good weather, it is anticipated that banana production should move to 100,000 tonnes over three years.
Production is currently some 50,000 tonnes, which is mainly for local consumption. This is down from the 200,000 tonnes produced for export in 1996.
“Nonetheless, the banana sector continues to be a major contributor to Jamaica’s economic and social well-being, especially as it relates to the continued contribution it makes to the community and the banana producing parishes,” Clarke noted.