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Dominica seeking to resume banana shipment to UK

Staff Writer |
Dominica is seeking to resume export of bananas to the United Kingdom, two years after it stopped because of the dreaded Black Sigatoka disease.

Agriculture Minister Johnson Drigo said meetings are being held with various stakeholders, including farmers, as the island seeks to recover from the leaf spot disease characterised by tiny, chlorotic spots that appear on the bottom surface of the leaf, Jamaica Observer reports.

“We are rapidly establishing the banana unit... there are meetings going on across the island, meeting core farmers specially targeted for the export market,” he said.

He said the targeted farmers will receive all the support needed and that farmers are now able to purchase inputs at reduced prices.

“As of this week we are selling fertilizer to the farmers at a reduced price…all in an effort for assist the banana and plantain farmers in rehabilitating their farms,” he added.

In January 2015, Winfresh (UK) Limited announced that it had halted banana exports from Dominica into the United Kingdom because of the fungus.

Winfresh, which imports and distributes the fruit, said then it had taken the unusual step of suspending the import of bananas because of concerns over the quality of the fruit.

Black Sigatoka, which generally leads to premature ripening of the banana fruit, has been ravaging Dominica since 2011 and the suspension was seen as a major blow to local industry, which at its heyday, generated in excess of EC$150 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) towards the local economy..