By Twila Wheelan
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The banana and plantain industry enjoyed a very productive 2022, recording a 2.8 percent increase in banana production and 18.7 percent for plantain. Despite the effects of Tropical Storms Grace and Ida in 2021, the industry rebounded to produce more than 72,000 metric tonnes of banana and more than 60,000 metric tonnes of plantain in 2022.
General manager of the banana board, Janet Conie, told JIS News that last year’s production of plantain was the highest in many years.
“It all had to do with the resilience of the farmers, aided and supported by the banana board. I want to congratulate the farmers for their resilience and for their productivity, in spite of the constraints,” she said. “We also have some very hard-working extension and research officers, as well as quality control and certification officers. They are all working together with the farmers to ensure that they make their businesses very profitable, and the banana and plantain business is profitable,” Conie added.
The figures show that the board exceeded its initial target of annual production of 70,000 metric tonnes of banana and 47,300 metric tonnes of plantains by 2023, using 2015 as the base year.
The general manager said the industry also saw the highest export of bananas in recent years.
“This is very good for us because those fruits do not go all the way to Europe. They are sold in the region, Canada, the US, and Cayman. We get good prices and export is increasing,” she said.
A total of 898.21 tonnes of bananas were exported in 2022, which represented a 9.17 percent increase over 2021.
Conie said the board is focused on strengthening the industry to be able to provide for the underserved markets in the Caribbean.
“There are a lot of markets in the Caribbean that are not being supplied […] . We are still not producing enough that we can export to all of them. We have targets to meet… but we are doing very well,” she said.
Meanwhile, the banana board is calling for increased support in the form of public-private partnerships, to manage the effects of climate change and to protect the current and future gains of the industry.
“There is a climate change project proposal that we have. It is very expensive because it involves technology to mitigate drought and produce bananas by climate-smart technology. The return on the investment is very good,” Conie said.
“We prefer to do it as a public-private partnership, but we need funding and that is what we are promoting; so, if there are any great funding agencies out there who want to contact us, we are ready and able with a project that is ready to begin,” she added.