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Thursday, 02 March 2017

Jamaica: Banana Board Looking to Boost Exports

The Banana Board is targeting further increase in exports by year-end, says the entity’s General Manager, Janet Conie. She said the prospects are positive, as Jamaica has received queries from several countries, particularly in Europe, regarding potential export arrangements. She was speaking with JIS News following a tour of farms and facilities in Portland and St. Mary on February 22 that are benefiting under the European Union (EU) Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAM) programme. Mrs. Conie noted that exports have been increasing steadily since being resumed in 2011 after a three-year break consequent to the sector’s devastation by Hurricane Gustav in 2008. She said following slow starts in 2011 and 2012, activities picked up in 2013 when 78 tonnes of the fruit were exported. Exports further increased to 211 tonnes in 2014; 312 tonnes in 2015; and 410 tonnes of the fruit were shipped in 2016. The sector currently has approximately 3,500 acres of land being cultivated by some 2,000 farmers. Mrs. Conie said the fruit, which is supplied through Board-certified farmers/exporters, is shipped mainly to the Cayman Islands, Canada, and occasionally to the United Kingdom, pointing out that “these are good niche markets (where) we are getting good prices”. Mrs. Conie noted, however, that Jamaica’s ability to capitalise on and fulfil the growing overseas demand for banana is contingent, to a great extent, on local suppliers and producers attaining GLOBAL Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. Global GAP is the worldwide organisation that assures the implementation of safe, sustainable agricultural practices worldwide. It does so by setting voluntary standards for the certification of products while creating incentives for producers to adopt safe and sustainable practices.

Source: JIS