Agriculture Minister, Johnson Drigo, has revealed that the Banana and Plantain Sector has experienced a fourteen percent growth over the fiscal year 2016/2017.
Speaking recently he also said there has been growth in the production of other crops, which he described as “remarkable.”
“Yams, potatoes, tania, dasheen, cucumber, pumpkin and vegetables grew by ten percent. This is also remarkable; we are seeing tangible results with the collaboration between the Ministry of Trade, DEXIA, the Bureau of Standards, the Hucksters Association and our supermarket outlets,” he said.
He highlighted supermarkets and street corner vendors as the “major pushers” of local produce.
“The supermarket outlets are one of the major pushers of local vegetables, any time you go into the supermarket, you will meet fresh produce: dasheen, plantains, bananas, you name it. Our ripeners, they are doing a very good job in ensuring that the persons who like their ripe bananas can get it on a regular basis, not only in the supermarkets but in the street corners,” Drigo stated.
He expressed satisfaction at the realization that progress is being made in the area of food security and the government is prepared to do the additional work that is needed to take advantage of the export markets.
He also noted that over $13-million has been set aside for the agricultural sector which, according to him, represents government’s commitment to farmers.
“This government committed to the exporters, to the entire sector, this government is trained in supporting agriculture, this government is putting its money where its mouth is,” he said.
Based on statistical data, Drigo noted that government’s investment into the sector for this fiscal year surpasses that of the fiscal year 2015/2016 by a long run and the budgetary allocation for the banana and plantain sub sector has almost doubled.
“So government has increased the budgetary allocation by almost 100 percent of the banana and plantain sub sector. I am saying to those of you who intend to stay in bananas, who intend to stay in plantains, prepare yourselves for hard work. However, your government has doubled the budget allocation for you and we will support you. That is why we have already given to the farmers who are serious,” he remarked.
For the year 2016/2017, fifty farmers have received assistance to upgrade their pack houses in order to meet certification standards which cost the government some $365,000 dollars, Drigo said.