The Banana Productivity Improvement Project may shorten the deadline for the export of bananas. Officials are considering shortening the initial January 2018 deadline to November 2017, due to the successful management of the Black Sigatoka Disease.
Kerde Severin, Project Manager for the Banana Productivity Improvement Project, said the rescheduling is due to an April 2017 assessment that resulted in an optimistic outlook.
“I recently attended a meeting with Winfresh discussing exactly that, and we’re looking to advance the deadline. We’re hoping to start exporting to the French market this year. The French representatives were here in April to assess our readiness, and we had agreed on January 2018, but now we are looking at probably November or December of this year.”
As a result, Mr. Severin said several preparations need to be made.
“We are preparing for the second segment of our market which is the French market, and there are a number of things which we need to do because we want to make a good first impression. We have to work with the farmers in order to get the quality up to standard because we do not want to send any fruits to France that are of inferior quality. We also need to train the farmers on packing procedures, quality standards, bunch care, and all the various aspects of post-harvest handling that is required to give you a nice final product.”
Earlier this year, a sum of EC$13.8 million was allocated in the 2017 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for banana rehabilitation initiatives. The project’s objective is to increase production in order to cater to the increased demand for Saint Lucian bananas in the European market.