General Manager of Dominica Agricultural Producers and Exporters Limited (DAPEX) Errol Emmanuel wants local banana farmers to step up their efficiency after the European parliament approved a deal to reduce taxes on the fruit from Latin American.

Under the new accord, the European Union (EU) is cutting import duties on Latin American bananas from US$262 a tonne to US$170 over the next seven years thus making its purchase of Latin American bananas much cheaper.

Because the European Union is the biggest market for bananas globally, this means other banana suppliers like Dominica will have to work much harder to get their produce sold to the EU.

“The focus, if we are going to continue in those markets, has to be on improving our efficiency in terms of our cost of operations and our overall yield in terms of output from the farm has to be much higher,” Emmanuel told DBS.

The EU imports more than 60 percent of its bananas from Latin America and only 20 percent from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Dominica produces approximately five tonnes per acre on average and according to Emmanuel “in this global competitive environment, five tonnes per acre will not give you a chance in that hostile market”.

Emmanuel said that authorities will now have to take a closer look as to how they can soften the effects of the new EU deal on Caribbean bananas.