Minister responsible for Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Walter has urged farmers, particularly those involved in the cultivation of bananas to employ good agricultural practices.
The minister, who addressed the official commissioning of an inland reception and distribution center in Fond Cole this morning, said that farmers need to take a different approach to their agricultural practices.
“Banana cultivation is not backyard gardening. We need to see persons invest in bananas. There is a market outside there. And we need to see farmers doing bananas on a commercial basis, investing in bananas in order for us to meet our goals and our objectives,” Walter said.
The minister also spoke of the need for streamlining banana farmers in efforts to produce the necessary quota for regional and international markets.
“We also need to streamline the banana industry in Dominica. Not everybody successfully can cultivate bananas … because we need to make a quota out there … Presently we are not meeting our quota. We need every banana farmer in this country should be able to meet a certain tonnage of production, and at least five tonnes per acre. The yield per acre in Dominica is very low,” Walter said.
“And when you contrast that to the Dominican Republic and some of the Latin American countries it is extremely very low. So there is a necessity to increase production … in the banana industry, so this is why the emphasis is on streamlining the banana industry,” he said.
Walter said that education of farmers is one way to tackle the problem.
“…The banana farmers need to be educated. The operators need to go on the ground and sensitize the farmers with respect to the changes that are taking place out there and that are consequently affecting us in Dominica,” he stated.
Walter advised farmers to do what they can to ensure that the banana industry is maintained.
“We cannot do away with the banana industry; we cannot close our eyes on the banana industry. The banana industry is very important to the livelihood of the people of this country. We need to tailor the industry, to respond to those global changes…
“We have to meet standards,” he stated.