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Oh yes, we have no bananas
An outbreak of black sigatoka disease which is ravaging St Lucia’s banana industry is one of the reasons being given for a shortage of bananas in T&T. Yesterday fruit vendors in San Fernando complained that for the past two weeks they have not been able to get supplies of bananas and they are facing massive losses as a result.
Food Production Minister Devant Mahara told the T&T Guardian limited supplies of bananas are coming into the country. “There is a shortage coming in from the islands and the importer has limited supply for the market,” he said in a text message. A banana importer, who requested anonymity, said there is no need for panic since bananas are on the port.
“There was a small shortage during the months of December and January. The buyers are aware that when there is a climate change the production slows. I have three containers on the port clearing as we speak and I have two more to clear Monday, so by next week things should be back to normal,” the importer said. He said other importers also have containers on the port waiting to be cleared.
The bananas, he said, are mainly imported from the Dominican Republic and Suriname. He said the shortfall is coming mainly from the Dominican Republic since very small quantities are imported from St Lucia. Ganesh Gangapersad, Quality Assurance Manager of the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco,) said in a report that6r the shortage is due slow down the process in the Dominican Republic and Suriname, which reduced supply to T&T.”
Hardat currently receives bananas from St Lucia and St Vincent, he stated in the report. Ashram Dowlath, currently the sole importer from Suriname, said there was an increases in prices there which should be resolved within three weeks. Last week, St Lucia’s Minister for Agriculture Moses Jn. Baptiste said the country is facing a national crisis as black sigatoka disease has damaged the banana industry there.
He said the St Lucian government has asked a team of experts from the University of the West Indies to assist in fighting the fungal disease which causes banana leaves to turn yellow and brown. Yesterday bananas were in short supply in San Fernando. Checks with vendors on upper and lower High Street revleaed the fruit was not available and vendors who managed to get a supply increased their prices.
At the San Fernando market, one vendor, who did not give his name, was selling bananas for $7 a pound. Bananas usually cost $5 a pound. Fruit vendor Dave Jaisingh, who has been selling on High Street for the last 25 years, said: “My morning customers have been coming and asking for the bananas. Most of my customers use bananas for breakfast and they not getting at all. I have a lot of regular customers and it is a problem for us.
“The sales are going to drop. Every day we sell four to five boxes of bananas. Now we have none to sell,” Jaisingh said. “I would have lost thousands of dollars without the bananas,” he added. Jaisingh said since last week Monday he has not been able to secure bananas to sell.
“My supplier said he not getting bananas at all. He said he expecting some next week. I do not know what is going onbut we get bananas from St Vincent, Grenada, St Lucia and Suriname. The local market cannot supply the demand. Very rare you get local bananas. Most of our bananas are from foreign.”
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