Local bananas have returned to the United Kingdom (UK), six years after exports to that, and other European markets ceased.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, says an initial shipment of 2,000 bananas was exported to the UK last week, while another order is being prepared to be sent to that country on Wednesday.
The shipments will be Jamaica’s first into Europe since 2008 when exports ceased, following the industry being ravaged mainly by hurricanes.
Mr. Clarke made the announcement during Tuesday’s (June 17) launch of Jamaica’s Export Market Platform, at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew.
He informed that a Ministry team, which attended the London Produce Show in the UK, as guests of the Fresh Produce Consortium, negotiated, and finalised arrangements with targeted purchasers of fresh produce, for the resumption of banana exports to that country.
“This shipment will continue weekly, up to the end of August, from existing suppliers, and the UK buyer will be in the island by the end of this month to negotiate long-term contracts for importing Jamaican bananas into Britain,” he informed.
The Consortium is an association of fresh produce importers whose members comprise 70 businesses, inclusive of retailers, distributors, importers, wholesalers, processors, packers, and food service companies.
In addition, the Minister disclosed that prospective market opportunities are being followed up with DG Fruits and its parent company in the Netherlands, deGroot, which is the largest handler of bananas in Europe.
“The resources of the European Union (EU)-funded (Jamaica) Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) will be directed to put our small farmers in a position to supply these markets consistently,” Mr. Clarke further stated.
The Export Platform is a collaborative engagement between the Ministry, through its Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded Agricultural Competitiveness programme (ACP), and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
It entails a range of activities aimed at facilitating and enhancing interaction between local farmers, and overseas buyers, in the provision of fresh produce for export.
These include : identifying markets; training farmers and potential exporters in international business best practices; exposing them to these markets in an organised way, and bringing the farmers and exporters in contact with the market.
By Douglas McIntosh