Conveniently, so called Kingstown Park Patterson blames the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the dismal state of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) banana industry. However, is it the WTO who has bananas in SVG in such a dismal state today?
Before the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government got into office (“power” as they like to say), they knew of the WTO decisions and the potential impacts on the banana industry. But still they say they had the plans for the banana industry. Weren’t they the ones that told the farmers they would bring back bananas to their glory days?
But Patterson wants us to believe it’s all the WTO’s fault. Now, what the hell you think the European Union (EU) gave SVG the Stabilization of Export Earnings (STABEX) funds to do? The STABEX funds were for agricultural diversification and to help improve and increase banana production (yield per acre). Where is the irrigation system today? Destroyed!
Can you guess which country returned millions of dollars for agricultural diversification to the EU? SVG, ding, ding, ding, you are correct!
Next, Patterson is going to blame Hurricane Tomas (late 2010) for the dismal state of the banana industry in SVG. But before Patterson does so, I will state that St Lucia and SVG banana industries were hit hard by Hurricane Tomas (some may say St Lucia’s more so than SVG’s). Also, both countries were affected by the Black Sigatoka banana fungus disease.
Whereas, St Lucia’s banana industry has begun to bounce back since mid 2011, SVG’s is still in the doldrums. Last year, on an average St Lucia made about double the amount of money per month from bananas than SVG made for the entire year. St Lucia made just over $28 million from banana exports, while SVG made a measly $1.5 million from banana exports for the entire year.
Can you guess which country failed to spray to control the Black Sigatoka problem? SVG, ding, ding, ding, you are correct!
The ULP government took away the banana industry from the banana farmers. The ULP government took away banana farmlands from banana farmers. Under their watch they failed to spray, thus Black Sigatoka and Moko disease destroyed the banana industry. Furthermore, they took away arable farmlands from the farmers in Belisle, Peter’s Hope, Buccma, Argyle, Georgetown, and Green Hill.
Where are all the plans for the banana industry? Where are the glory days for the banana industry? The people of SVG are still waiting. Was this all a ruse to get into “power”?
Who said agriculture is dead and a thing of the past? Who should get the blame, the WTO or the ULP government?
Over the last couple of weeks a low of 45 boxes and 450 boxes of bananas nationwide exported from SVG is not the work of the WTO. Furthermore, the markets are still available for Windward Island bananas (St Lucia, SVG, Dominica and Grenada) in the UK. It is the ULP government’s fault. They failed to spray the bananas and farmers cannot get the inputs to get the industry up and running.
Come on Patterson! Unlike the ULP government, I did not imagine after the WTO ruling that the banana industry would get back to its glory days in SVG. I expected farmers to still be able to make a decent living from bananas and other crops (agricultural diversification). As the saying goes, “half a loaf is better than none at all.”
Peace and justice and get real.