STARTING Thursday, Jamaica will export one container of bananas per week to Trinidad and Tobago.

A release from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries said Janet Conie, general manager of The Banana Board made the announcement at the Banana Day Observation and Farm Tours in Portland last Friday, and that the move is part of its export thrust, which was restarted in 2013.

Since 2013, there has been a steady increase in banana production from just over 33,000 tonnes to 58,701 metric tonnes in 2016, the release said.

Export of bananas has been on the increase, moving from 78 tonnes in 2013 to 411 tonnes in 2016 with earnings of $47.7 million, following the devastation of the industry in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy, the release continued.

The ministry said yesterday that through a 4.73 million-euro grant funding from the Government of Jamaica and the European Union, 1,000 farmers in traditional banana-dependent areas have benefited from capacity-building training and technical advice under the Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures Programme, which ran from November 2013 and ends this December and the Banana Export Expansion Programme, which ran from 2015 and will end in January 2018.

Resulting from the implementation of these programmes, the release said the banana industry has experienced a 7.5 per cent increase in productivity, moving from 15 tonnes per hectare to 18,000 tonnes over the 2011 levels. In addition, production of bananas and plantains has increased by 26 per cent in 2016 over 2011 to 102,138 tonnes.

In the meantime, Daryl Vaz, Member of Parliament for Portland Western, who was speaking on behalf of Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda, commended the farmers who have received Global GAP certification.

“Global GAP certification is the stamp of approval for our produce and the passport to international trade,” said Vaz, as he stressed the importance of applying the best standards and best agronomic practices in order to increase and be assured of the sustainability of the industry.

He also had high praises for the work of The Banana Board and the All Island Banana Growers’ Association for their outstanding work in the redevelopment of the banana industry.

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