Caribbean governments defend their banana growers
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CTA. 1993. Caribbean governments defend their banana growers. Spore 45. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49134
Banana producers elsewhere in the world are questioning the competitiveness of the Caribbean banana industry; and they do not all welcome the favourable terms of trade being offered to the Caribbean producers. How are the politicians responding? In...
Banana producers elsewhere in the world are questioning the competitiveness of the Caribbean banana industry; and they do not all welcome the favourable terms of trade being offered to the Caribbean producers. How are the politicians responding? In a recent interview with Julian Pettifer of BBC Television John Compton, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, complained that the playing field was not level. 'We in the four tiny Windward Islands have about 20,000 farmers producing less than 400,000 tonnes of bananas: and you put them against the multi-nationals in Central and other parts of Latin America with vast populations dealing with thousands and thousands of acres and producing something like 2 million tonnes of bananas.'' efficiency, he said, had to be related to resources. 'We have small farmers, with small plots of land on mountainous territory, yet they are producing better quality, finer tasting fruit.' Asked whether aid should be offered rather than making spacial arrangements for Caribbean producers in the European market, John Compton replied 'I think that really is beneath our dignity. What we ask for is to earn our living. We don't want to be given food stamps rather than a job. We have a job here and we want to maintain that job and to earn our living, that is what we ask for.' Dame Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister of Dominica, was asked by Spore for her views. She saw the issue as one shared between the Caribbean producers and the European Community. 'None of the European countries could afford to support us if we become an economic disaster area, because they have their own financial difficulties. Banana production is not just an interest of ours, it is our life-blood. The industry cannot be allowed to go to the wail.' Could the tourist industry replace banana cultivation as a major source of income? Not according to John Conpton. 'I cannot see the farmers in the hills going to serve daiquiri in the hotels. Tourism has its place and tourism will grow, but it will not take the place of agricutuure. Even if we go into diversification and diversify into any other thing, we have to diversify around bananas, not away from bananas.'