Plan to be implemented to revitalize banana sector

Minister Walter. *file photo

Agriculture Minister Matthew Walter has outlined several measures to be introduced by the Government in support of the banana sector under a “banana recovery and sustainability plan”.

Walter, who addressed a press conference yesterday, said these measures are expected to boost the sector by creating avenues to enhance productivity and farm income.

“…Provide $1 million in Phase One through the AID Bank for lending to farmers on a 50 percent loan/50 percent grant scheme at about $2.5 percent interest. This will go towards farm rehabilitation, replanting and expansion according to the needs and willingness of farmers,” he stated.

“We expect that about 535 acres will be improved to higher levels of production by year end. This intervention is phase one of a comprehensive banana recovery and sustainability plan,” Walter said.

The minister stated that a possible loan amount reduction and farmers who may be unable to access the 50/50 loan grant scheme will be supported. In addition, inputs to the tune of $500,000 will be provided to farmers.

“…Under the diversification and the support of horticulture programs Government continues to provide plant materials, technical assistance, new technologies and financing to farmers for adaptation to new farming systems. These programs amount to some $4 million and will support farmers who are opting out of banana production to alternative crop production,” he added.

Walter boasted that the benefits of such programs have already manifested itself with the non-banana sector, recording significant growth in 2009.

He mentioned that a continuation of the subsidization of fertilizers program has recently been approved in Parliament. He assured that the cost of fertilizers will not exceed $45 per 25 kilograms bag.

“These measures are designed to reach as many farmers as possible while at the same time indicating to farmers and the industry as a whole that it is by more businesslike approaches to farming the industry will survive,” he added.

“In this regard, I call on banana industry stake holders and leaders to re-examine the rational for the level of fragmentation, inefficiencies and duplications that now exists. We must admit that this situation has only served to further confuse the issues surrounding a sustainable way forward for the banana industry,” he said.

Walter guaranteed that this was just the beginning of a series of measures aimed at enhancing the sub-sector and agriculture industry.

He also assured that his ministry and the government have always demonstrated support to the sub-sector in diverse ways and “at no time loose site of the need to support the sub sector.”

“It is particularly important to note that a significant portion of government investments in agriculture came directly from local funds, which is a departure from the norm,when past investment in the sector came exclusively from donor funding,” Walter said.

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32 Comments

  1. dominican overseas
    September 18, 2012

    by the way i’m interesting in buying some farm land .VALUE 10.000.US NICE IF THERES A STREAM OR ARIVER.

  2. dominican overseas
    September 18, 2012

    while most dominicans are trying to run i’m trying to come back home.Our farm land is all we have.while we are eating foods produced from labs with all kinds of injections and cancer viruses from Europe and America and allowing u.s companies like Kenturkey in our country to fenish kill us,we can first think of suppling our country with organic foods and eductate our people about gynetic fertilizers that are distroying our soil today.

  3. August 19, 2010

    THINK OF THIS ” POPULATION EXPLODES BUT LAND NEVER GROWS”
    CALIBISHIE people stop selling your farm lands to foreigners. Dominica needs the land for its future generation. Your children children and their children children who have’nt even born yet.
    Land is a scarce commodity all over the world because over time it never gets to be more.
    At the going US$ rate the local people cannot afford to buy their own land right now.
    Minister of Agriculture, the idea of revitalization is great but take some time and think of what the future of the farmers in Dominica is going to look like and do something about farm land NOW. Think in terms of 10,20 year period.
    Thanks.

  4. arjay
    August 18, 2010

    ‘Agriculture Minister Matthew Walter has outlined several measures to be introduced by the Government in support of the banana sector under a “banana recovery and sustainability plan”.’

    This announcement follows what appears to be a pattern where policy announcements are made at Press Conferences with little or no details accompanying such announcements. This is very unfortunate as the lack of detail makes it difficult for there to be any meaningful analysis or discussion of the policy. Hence we are left in the dark with many readers resorting ( sadly) to mud slinging and disparaging remarks. How about writing directly to the Minister and let him know how you feel about his announcement. His email address is: minagriculture@cwdom.dm

  5. zam
    August 18, 2010

    Doh wanna be a prophet of doom and gloom but this thing really sounds like old talk. So its like trying to find dolpins and tuna in the layou river. Banana cultivation these days will indeed send people bananas. Diversification is the way to go. Tap into livestock development: You guys can to with some serious meat Industry in Dominica. You guys can go into chicken production, pork, and so forth on a massive scale, instead of getting all these frozen stuff from Uncle Sam and Co.
    Now is time to think outside the matchbox and go brave and try new things. Pump the aID Money in the livestock industry instead of having poor farmers risk their land, house and well being with Pressure from Mighty AID Bank. Its all well and good to sign paper but to pay back is another subject all together. Let the farmers enjoy some good nights sleep instead of going to face the pressure from AID Bank. The farmers are people tooo……………………………….. so stop all old talk and get busy with the projects…

  6. @what???:

    Well, including a family name in the topic, is not usually done deliberate, however, some unavoidable circumstances usually draw them into the picture.

    I.E., in the event what I am talking about plays into history or politics a bit, it is likely the name of somene you know might be mentioned, thus my arguments can be authenticated.

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

  7. Mr Fox
    August 18, 2010

    Is the full strategy or plan that the Minister spoke of available? It would be good if we could be told more about the strategy/plan so that we can understand the multiple elements of it that the other folks here have been talking about: e.g. market study, education and training programmes for farmers, extension officers, etc., and the requirements for farmers to access the funds which will largely determine whether this can work or not. Also, are the recommendations based on the needs that farmers have identified?

    Please Mr Minister and all the others involved. Talk to people. Let us know the plans. If it is so much of a good idea we must be able to understand. Let’s have the details and let’s talk about it to make sure we support it and are in it for the long haul.

  8. oh boy
    August 18, 2010

    @winston warrington:

    Very good statement. It captures the whole industry in the West Indies. I purchased my banana leaf suit a long time ago – just to attend this funeral. However, since these guys keep postponing the burial, the whole thing has turned brown. I will have to buy another one; and that’s rough on me, because the economy has put a huge hole in my pocket.

  9. madness
    August 18, 2010

    Who are going to buy Banana exports from DA? Has the market been identified?

  10. Anonymous
    August 18, 2010

    The destruction by Bill Clinton and the (WTO) World Trade Organisation of the Banana trade of which these small Islands depended, this was done by Clinton to benefit a financial contributor named Karl Linder owner of the Chiquita banana brand, the aim of the Minister must be to diversify the economy by reducing the dependence on bananas, we must remember Dominica has fertile soil that provide a good basis for farming when we were part of the British Empire Dominica’s prime function was to supply lime juice for the British Navy, but Britain have sorely neglected the Caribbean under colonial rule. Britain prosperity was built on the oppression and exploitation of Africans and Caribbean people!

  11. what???
    August 18, 2010

    @Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque:

    Francisco,

    Your comments are usually valid, and help stimulate ongoing discussion regarding the topics that affect all Dominicans. Just one suggestion: If you can keep you comments to the topic and not mention people and their family affiliation, you would have a greater impact. Your valids points and contributions sometimes get lost when you go off on a tangent. Overall, your comments add a lot to these boards.

  12. monkey see monkey do
    August 18, 2010

    walter is just a waste of time, period

  13. what???
    August 18, 2010

    STOP IT, ALREADY. HOW COULD WE COMPETE IN THIS INDUSTRY WHEN THE BIG BOYS ARE GROWING BANANAS IN LABS WITH THE AID OF GENETIC MODIFICATION? ARE OUR POLITICIANS LIVING UNDER A CALABASH?

    THIS IS A NEW WORLD WHERE OUR FARMERS NO LONGER HAVE PROTECTION STATUS FOR MARKETS, QUOTAS, AND TARIFFS. HOW COULD A SMALL FARMER WHO GROWS TWO ACRES OF LAND COMPETE AGAINST DOLE? OUR DOMINICAN FARMERS ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT A DYING CROP. DO THEY KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE WORLD MARKET WITH BANANAS? THEY NEED TO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE BEANS. THE BANANA MARKET FROM THE CARIBBEAN IS DEAD. IT CANNOT BE REVIVED. LET IT GO. MOVE TO SOME OTHER CROP.

    THE COST OF PRODUCING BANANAS IS TO FORMIDABLE FOR THE SMALL FARMER. IN ORDER TO BE PROFITABLE, YOU MUST PRODUCE A COMPETITIVE PRODUCT, AND HAVE THE MARKET SHARE AND POLITICAL CLOUT TO MAKE AN IMPACT. OUR INDUSTRY NO LONGER HAS THE TYPE OF PROTECTION WE ONCE HAD. BILL CLINTON MADE CERTAIN OF THAT WHEN HE PRESSURED THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO) TO CREATE THE SAME COMPETING STANDARDS FOR SMALL FARMERS. CLINTON CHANGED THE DYNAMICS OF HOW THE SMALL GROWERS WERE ABLE TO COMPETE IN ORDER TO SURVIVE. HE LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD – WHICH PARALYZED US.

    WARNING: IN FRUSTRATION, OUR FARMERS MUST NOT SELL THEIR LAND TO FOREIGNERS. WE WILL BECOME LIKE BARBADOS AND ANTIGUA; AND BEFORE WE KNOW IT, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO AFFORD OUR OWN ISLAND.

  14. TRAVAIL POU AYEN!!!
    August 18, 2010

    Are you guys nuts,or just plain stupid!…Bananas?.Where are you going to find the market for bananas now?…Please stop with the foolishness,Bananas as it was once known in Dominica,is dead.Finished…..The central and south American countries, backed by big corporations like ‘DOLE”, and others like Dole,manipulated and took that market over a long,long time ago.
    Dominica will not be able to compete with these Countries.You don’t have the tools,the modern equipment, nor the technology…..So please Stop with the nonesense about bananas…You want Dominican farmers to see more misery?….DON’T LISTEN TO THAT MAN AND GO AND TAKE ANY LOANS TO PLANT BANANAS. BANK WILL END UP TAKING ALL U LAND! MISTER IS A DAMN ASS AND A DAMN LIER!…
    If you say you want to help the farmers,fine,thats all well and good…Then you must encourage them to plant other crops.Not only Bananas, but a variety of produce,fruits and vegetables,spices, herbs(no,no i do not mean “weed”)etc. Coconuts(we can also benefit the coconut products),limes. They will never survive on bananas only! …Help them aquire the necessary skills and tools,techniques,and technology in farming. Help them with better roads.and facilities,so they can become competitive.Assist them in getting a market for their crops so they will be able to get substantial returns in their investments.That’s what they need….
    $45 for a bag of fertilizer?, it’s still way too high.You got to be kidding. Is that what the Dominican farmers need?..Alas!, they see enough misery already.Stop fooling them.
    We are in August and you are talking about “having 535 acres will be improved to high levels of production this year”.. Of what,..bananas?…….Yeah right I will wait to see this one..who is going to do that, ..you?..

    Lying ass! .Full of lies and propaganda.Most of you guys in Govt. that’s all you do, just lie and fool the people continually, with your empty promises, and so call fancy words; which most often than not, no one understands anyway…not even you….Full of contradictions…..Talking bout garantee…you can garantee anything?.Who the hell are you trying to fool…………

    Instead of you guys come up with some innovative ideas to move the Country forward, you come talking about bananas. Whose big idea is that?…..Were’nt you the same one who dissed the farmers not too long ago?…I wonder if they forgot?…..Why don’t you do yourself and us all a big favor…just resign!, please,…simply, go away…You do not care anything about the farmers in Dominica….never did, never will….Don’t trust him.

    And please don’t give me any feed’back about, UWP,FUP, LABOR.DPP, YPP, WHO PP, or DFP….I do not belong to any one of them. I care about Dominica and the People of Dominica..Good!

  15. August 18, 2010

    @Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque: Francisco,as usual very interesting. There are also some amusing facts in your narrative that I enjoy. Please do not be distracted by those who happen to have access to a computer.

  16. August 18, 2010

    @The Third Side: I totally agree. They have been holding a wake for the banana industry for over ten years now and will not inform us of the funeral. They have refused to bury the idea of bananas as a primary money crop.

  17. The Third Side
    August 18, 2010

    Minister, this is reactionary…no matter how much money you throw at Banana will resuscitate the banana industry. The days of the 80s and early 90s when the EU took everything from us is over. Dominica and the OECS cannot compete in Agriculture.

    We need to move the farmers into crop producing income….the problem is , all the Caribbean Islands plant the same crops.

    So all the bright folks here , please come up with some good suggestions if you care about Dominica and stop with the politics

  18. August 18, 2010

    THINK ABOUT THIS “POPULATION EXPLODES

  19. August 18, 2010

    Very good intentions to revitalize the banana industry.But if the inhabitants continue selling their farm lands to foreigners, then where will the future generation farm? Once the land is in foreign hands, it never gets back to the local people. Don’t forget that agriculture is our primary economic and social advancement. We are not a manufacturing country and we should do our best to work with the produce that we have in abundance.
    Stop dreaming about the big white hope that will come and invest in your island. We have an abundance of labor but if you look around the world there are so much cheap labor. China is a good example. Calibishie people wake up it’s later than you think!
    Can a system of Ground Land Lease be put into place in this island? Renting the land with periods of say 19yrs. renewable. Any thing that was built becomes property of the owner after end of lease We originally had 305sq miles which now is eroded to 290sq miles,
    THINK ABOUT THIS “POPULATION EXPLODES

  20. taxicreole
    August 17, 2010

    Imagine farmers going to face AID Bank in such times. Its easi to say take a loan and so forth but when pay back time is due, some body has to pay for that. Remember how farmers in Dominica toiled and tolied just to pay back a loan on a vehicle? When they are through paying off the loan- if the AID Bank doesnot take them to court- well th vehicle is good for nothing. So poor farmers in Dominica ought to be treated with more sensivity. Perhaps the way forward is diversification instead of Going Bananas. Kindly look into alternative ways of making money instead of carryin boxes of bananas for nothing. So try to tap into the other root crops and please educate the farmers regarding the availablility of markets in the caribbean.
    Goood luck to our farmers but the AID bank thing and the struggle to repay such loans- well the goverment should give something to the farmers so they can be serious about agriculture.

  21. One Love
    August 17, 2010

    How many journalists are farmers?

    WHY DIDN’T THE MINISTER CALL A CONVENTION OF FARMERS AT 10 O’CLOCK ON SUNDAY MORNING . . . . . . . BRING HIS WHOLE ARMY OF ADVISERS, EXTENSION PEOPLE, SECRETARIES . . . . BRING IN THE RELEVANT “AID” BANK PEOPLE …………. OUTLINE HIS PLANS . . . . . . AND START THE BALL ROLLING RIGHT THERE AND THEN?

  22. madness
    August 17, 2010

    Banana done …find another crop that has higher demand and return..that is feasible and come again

  23. Dominicafirst
    August 17, 2010

    Put Dominica First, Lets save our Farmers by boycotting all Imported foods that can be grown Locally. Boycott begins 8/17/2010 …
    Thats if you Love Dominica.

  24. Jayson
    August 17, 2010

    @Pat: Just be real with the banana farmers and tell them it’s all over. It’s like whipping a dead horse . it’s no wonder the government don’t want to pump useless money into it.

  25. Anonymous
    August 17, 2010

    Mr minister we are not going to grow bananas and we cannot sell it tell us who the buyers are and talk with us about the long trem aggreement, with your buyers and also talk to us about insurance plans in this hurricane prone country. I know you know how hard it is to work in this mountainous regions talk to us about road infrastruture and the ability to produce hybrids as fast rates. I think we need a expert in the agricultural sector specifically for bananas period. Somebody who is a guru in every aspect of producing banans at an extremely high quality and at the most cost efficient way. And stop trying to butter people mouth as if we are small cats.

  26. I do not suggest that we eliminate agriculture in Dominica, completely, since most of our staples derive from agriculture produce.

    Nevertheless, since we are emphasizing the revitalization of the banana plantations, which is encouraging the planting of more bananas, assuming that the few farmers left, the older people who’s life’s are totally dependent on bananas succeed in revamping their plantations, the product becomes available in abundance, can we revamp the European market, as pertaining to the price that will be paid for the bananas exported?

    Can our government compel the British to buy our Bananas?

    We need not fool ourselves, the Europeans are not all that interested in the Caribbean islands, of St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, Dominica, and our bananas anymore.

    The banana industry is a fail industry, not only in the Caribbean; however, also in South, and Central America.

    We recall that Dole, and their counterpart, more than ten years ago, sort the monopoly of supplying the European, market including the British Market, with bananas; as a result of that we lost our preferential treatment, eventually Dole and company cases their efforts to gain the monopoly; and also the preferential treatment which they wanted over us:

    Have our people at home wonder why?

    The bottom line is that the banana industry is no longer a profitable venture, it’s no longer a profitable business!

    Now in our nation case, the question here is do we have an alternative?

    Absolutely yes!

    And, I would like to suggest we return to the spices, such as, nutmegs, vanillas, (cinnamon spice), also coffee in addition to citrus products, lemon and lime, grapefruits, and oranges!

    We can add coconut, avocados and sour-sops. These are products that can be processed in Dominica and exported.

    In the 1920’s and 1930’s and into the early 1940’s such are the products which kept Dominica’s Sons and Daughters alive, and also caused people from across the Caribbean to come to Dominica to find employment.

    That’s how Wesley and Marigot came into existent, because most of the first inhabitance of these villages were people from St. Kitts, Montserrat, Antigua, and a few people from Barbados, when I grew up there was even a man from Guyana, (British Guiana, then) we called him soap-man, he worked at the Londonderry Demonstration Center, and manufacture different quality of Soap, at his house, next to my grandmother’s house where he lived.

    These people worked on Estates from Hutton Garden, to Hampstead!

    That is why we find that the people of Wesley, and Marigot possessed a different accent, in language than the rest of Dominica; there is also an area in Portsmouth where lots, of people from Antigua, and St. Kitts lived, and the only reason they migrated to Dominica was because of the products I mentioned previously.

    As a result of these people we have surnames names such as Douglas, Hector, Dyer, Christian, Banes, Walker, Southwell, Challenger, even Skerrit, which comes from Montserrat, I am sure of that, because Sarah Wallace born Sarah, Skerrit, an aunt of our Prime Minister, is related to yours truly, since her grandmother, was born Telemaque, in one case, and (Dods) Dodds in the other case.

    And for those ignorant people in Wesley who would like to question that, and call for me to go to visit with a psychiatrics, don’t bother, simple talk to the old Fire Chief in Wesley, Arnold Telemaque, he will confirm that Sarah Skerrit Wallace grandmother is his late father’s aunt.

    Arnold is a better historian than I am anyway.

    His father’s aunt is also Griffin St Hillier’s grandmother!

    My contention here is that; perhaps we should return to the products which held our country together, and influencing so many people from the islands mentioned to flocked to Dominica to find employment, long before bananas were thought of as an industry in 1949, or there about.

    I mean we had the plant, we eat what we produced, we did not export Bananas, until Folly & Barnes came along.

    There are lots of other agricultural products we can process in Dominica, and market internationally; the production of Bananas should not be our ultimate goal, there are a host of other things we can become involved with rather than the exporting of Bananas.

    True when you plant a field of bananas, a crop is expected within six to eight months, that’s fast, but we should look beyond that, and develop other long term ventures and industries, that will yell more economically, which could afford us to deviate from the planting of Bananas at this point and time of our nations history.

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

  27. Anonymous
    August 17, 2010

    @Pat: good point

  28. Jr
    August 17, 2010

    Don”t want to be pessimistic. but don’t you guys think that we are flowing a dead horse?

  29. possie
    August 17, 2010

    and they say the pm don’t listen can’t wait to hear wat they have to say now

  30. K.S.Miller
    August 17, 2010

    Was this mentioned in the national budget last month? I don’t recall hearing about this initiative in the minister’s presentation in the nation budget. Did they take the Fairtrade /Banana report into consideration before embarking on this revitalization plan?

    It seems to me that this whole thing is in reaction to the tongue lashing which the minister and his ministry is getting from all quarters. It seems to me also that they are listening to the media house which they prefer the nation not to listen to. ……………. correct me if I am wrong.

    I hope this undertaking is properly implemented and the farmers and agricultural sector benefit.

    Agriculture has been neglected for too long by this government.

  31. AM MAD
    August 17, 2010

    JUST CHECK HIS FACE YOU CAN IS LIES HE TELLING , BECAUSE THEY HEARING SOME FARMERS CRYING EVERYDAY ON MATT SHOW HE WANT TO COME AND SAY THEY DOING SOMETHING DOMINICANS DONT BUY THAT THAT MATHEW IS A LAIR , HE DOING THAT FOR WE CAN SHUT UP BUT RANDY PLEASE DONT STOP GOING ON MATT SHOW LET KILL THEMSELVES FOR WHAT THEY DOING TO DOMINICANS

  32. Pat
    August 17, 2010

    Wasn’t it the loss of market share…ends to preferential treatment on the UK market etc… the main cause of the collapse of the banana industry??? Is there a change???

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