Banana Producers of the FWI in Great Financial Difficulty
Banana growers' groups from Martinique -BANAMART- and Guadeloupe -LPG- in the French West Indies (FWI) are joining forces to make the French Government aware of their financial situation, which they consider "catastrophic". They went to the authorities to explain their difficulties and ask for help to keep the banana industry alive.
The representatives of the banana growers' groups of the Antilles went on a working visit to France.
Meetings at the Élysée, in Matignon, at the National Assembly, with the President of the FNSEA, that of the French Chambers of Agriculture and ODEADOM Overseas Agricultural Development Office, they expressed the difficulties of the banana sector in the Antilles.
Over the past ten years, this important agricultural sector in Martinique has lost 20% of its producers due to increasing difficulties in the banana industry, which has become unprofitable.
For West Indian banana producers, the fight against Black Sigatoka led to a deterioration in the sector's situation.
According to them, "there is not sufficient support from the authorities to help producers grow bananas without pesticides and respecting the environment".
Nowadays, producers are reducing the use of pesticides to 85%, but this too at a cost "that they can no longer bear".
Without effective phytosanitary treatments, growers estimate that they have lost 30% of their production, increased additional labour costs and decreased the quality of the harvested bananas.
"We cannot any longer face a situation regardless of the size of their operation, we are losing 150 euros for each ton of bananas harvested," said Alexis Gouyé, a Banamart representative, who also noted that the EU aid of 129 million euros per year is no longer sufficient.
Banana producers in Guadeloupe and Martinique have benefited from European aid since 2007 as part of the POSEI program of options specific to remote and insular regions. They claim that more than the assistance would be needed to cover their costs.
This aid only covers farmers' salaries. Banana producers also denounce being deprived of any assistance from the 10-million-euro fund announced by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne to support overseas fruit and vegetable producers to compensate for the inflation's effects.
Banana growers also believe they have been ignored by the French Government, which has yet to put in place a legal framework to allow compensation for their loss during the passage of storm, Bret in 2022, which would have wiped out 20% of harvests of specific operators.
The banana industry of the FWI, therefore, is in crisis and is waiting for the creation of a banana variety resistant to Black Sigatoka. The current 5,000 hectares of banana plantations could be replaced in four or five years, and the transition completed in 2030.
The new variety of banana plants would make it possible to avoid additional production costs while respecting the environment, the growers said and are asking to obtain emergency economic aid to get through this transition necessary to renew their plantations.
They are still waiting to receive a concrete response from the Government. They estimate that in the last 15 years, banana production has fallen by 46% and that the number of banana producers will drop by 22% in one year.