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Banana farmers to reap relief from EU

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Banana farmers who were affected by hurricanes Emily and Dennis are to receive inputs valued at $122 million from the European Union (EU).

Some 1,002 hectares of banana farms are to be rehabilitated in St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas.

Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke, expressed his appreciation to the EU for its continued support to the island's banana industry. He said the EU has contributed approximately ??45 million or J$4 billion to the industry since 1996. He was speaking yesterday at the Agriculture Ministry's head office at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew.

The Banana Trading Company is to distribute the inputs, which include fertilisers, herbicides, polythene sleeves and fungicide, from its office in Port Antonio, Portland.

Ready for fair trade

In the meantime, Mr. Clarke said the EU has recently donated $74.3 million to assist farmers in achieving EUREPGAP certification. This, the minister explained, would enable the country to be fair-trade prepared.

"Against the background of the gradual erosion of preferential tariffs for our bananas exported to Europe, this "fair-trade is creating a niche market opportunity, which we must seek to exploit at all cost," he said.

Head of the European Commission delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Alemani, pledged to continue assisting the island in the various programmes aimed at aiding development.

[News Source]

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