Articles

Fri 27th Jul 2007

Man-made crisis in SVG banana industry - was the ULP regime sleeping

A delegation from the SVG Green Party leadership toured several farms in SVG which have been infected by the dreaded Moko disease. Some of the farms infected are in Spring village, Belle Isle, Richland Park, Greiggs and Yambou.

SVG Green Party is concerned that measures were not put in to place to quarantine the tissue culture plants or experiment with them in controlled localised areas, before they were put into mass production. This is typical of the incompetent ULP regime.

The Ministry of Agriculture should be mindful when implementing new planting programs, such as the tissue culture version, that they are done on a pilot project basis. This would ensure that the importation of exotic diseases can be easily identified and controlled in the early stages. The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that it has ordered 200,000 tissue culture plants from abroad. This could very well be problematic in our opinion, if they are not properly quarantined and tested for the deadly bacteria that causes Moko and other diseases.

From firsthand information received from farmers, it is apparent that something was wrong several years ago and that the extension service failed to identify the disease at the early stage. The banana industry has fallen in to real trouble owing to ULP regime mismanagement. On 16th July 2007, the Minister for Agriculture gave the following table.

Previous

Present

Difference

8000 acres in bananas

2300 acres in banana

Fall 71.25%

Price 65 cents per lb

Price 43 cents per lb

Fall 34%

Output 100, 000 lbs

Output 20,000 lbs

Fall 80%

According to the table given by the Minister, there has been an 87% drop in income. Rural areas are suffering the impact of the poor economic management of the ULP regime. The ULP regime is just trying to manage crisis after crisis and its head is barely above water.

Farmers need guaranteed markets for their short crops, but the ULP regime is failing farmers. Under the ULP government banana farmers are becoming more impoverished and the long-term forecast is bleak, both for farmers and their children. Government has taken away the dignity of banana farmers by having them rely upon handouts.

The longer farmers have a reduced income, the worse the impact will be on their children's long-term prospects of gaining the best education and a high income job. In the 2007 Budget Address, the Prime Minister states 'for the third consecutive year, the Agricultural sector experienced negative growth'.

SVG Green Party calls on all farmers to call on the government to announce the date for a general election soon, so that farmers' lives can be helped positively. We guarantee you 2 things:

1. Under the ULP government banana farmers and their families will not see a significant rise in their income. This will have serious long-term effects on the life opportunities and earning potential of their children.

2. With an SVG Green Party government banana farmers' children will have high-income, high-status jobs, and be able to look back and laugh on these times and say 'boy, remember that ULP government, they didn't have a clue'.

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