(LOOP NEWS) Last year, a Saint Lucian delegation led by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, Hon Alfred Prospere, embarked on a quest to secure new and existing banana markets to assure the prosperity of the banana sector.
Following the most recent research efforts by Export Saint Lucia and the National Fair Trade Organization (NFTO) a new market was secured in Antigua. The first shipment of 460 boxes arrived in Antigua at the end of March.
Following that success, the Minister for Agriculture indicated that maintaining a high quality and consistent quantity of banana exports remains critical to the sector’s growth.
“I applaud Saint Lucia’s farmers because the quality of the fruit exported was encouraging. Antigua has expressed interest in importing high-quality bananas, as we have been doing for export to the UK. We need now to ensure that we work toward maintaining and improving that quality so that bananas can continue to be exported to the UK and other countries in the region.”
Minister Prospere added that during his visit he engaged in discussions with an established buyer on the possibility of using Antigua as a distribution hub for surrounding countries in the region. The meeting elicited positive feedback due to the high level of interest shown.
“Currently, we are moving between 2000 and 2500 per week. But we have asked for the possibility of increasing it to 8000 because we believe the opportunity exists for additional distribution to Antigua, St Kitts, St Thomas and St Maarten.”
As the focus of the Ministry of Agriculture remains on securing existing banana markets and expanding into new regional and international markets, farmers are encouraged to ensure that the quality of the bananas produced remains among their highest priorities.