12 May 1998
Last-gasp plea by Windward banana men
WINDWARD Islands banana industry leaders have flown to London in a final attempt to maintain preferential treatment for growers in the former colonies of European Union (EU) countries.
The delegation, which represents small farmers, will tell agriculture minister Dr Jack Cunningham tomorrow that growers face economic disaster if African, Caribbean and Pacific products lose their special access to European markets – a privilege the World Trade Organisation has declared unfair.
EU agriculture ministers are due to meet next month to consider a revised banana regime under Dr Cunninghams chairmanship.
Renwick Rose, co-ordinator of the Winward Islands Farmers Association, said he would urge Dr Cunningham to argue for preferential treatment to be maintained for at least 10 years, during which time poorer producing nations would be able to diversify economically while trying to make their banana industries more competitive.
Latin American producers have accused European politicians and lobbyists of encouraging a false image of mass cultivation based on irresponsible overuse of agro-chemicals and slave-like labour conditions.
- The Daily Telegraph 12/05/98 page 16