OXFAM NOTICE – St Vincent to ship own banana crops to Europe, separate from WIBDECO
History was made June 7, 2009 when the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Fairtrade Organization (SVGFTO), a member of the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA), assumed responsibilities for the export of bananas from St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Europe. This follows the passage by Parliament of Act #3 of 2009 under which the affairs of the St. Vincent Banana Association (BGA), which previously exercised such responsibilities, were wound up as of May 31, 2009.
The Act, Provides for the responsibilities for such extra-regional export to be passed on to any Trader or producer organization which has a contractual agreement with the Windward Islands Banana Export and Development Company (WIBDECO), legally authorised body for banana exports from the Windward Islands to Europe. WINFA has such agreement with and exports the largest percentage of bananas to Europe under the internationally recognised Fairtrade brand.
The SVGFTO with a membership of over 800 registered Fairtrade farmers, organized in 16 Groups stretching from Overland in the North-East to Chateaubelair in the North-West, is one of the three Fairtrade organizations in the Windwards which belong to the WINFA Family.
Under the new arrangements, the Ministry of Agriculture will be responsible for providing Pest Management and Extension services to farmers. A Memorandum of understanding (MOU) was
signed between the Ministry and the SVGFTO as of June 10th 2009. A National Consultative Committee made up of representative of the Ministry, WINFA, WIBDECO, SVGFTO and other stakeholder groups, is to be set up for co-ordination of the process.
The SVGFTO will exercise its responsibilities through its investment arm, WINFARM Investments Ltd which will be based in offices previously occupied by the Bananas Growers Association.
All farmers who sold bananas for export to the UK on June 7th and 8th, 2009 will be paid by WINFARM Investments in the same manner as they were customarily paid.
Manager of the company is Mr. Henry Keizer, a veteran of the local banana industry who previously held positions as Financial Comptroller and then Manager of the BGA.
The board of WINFARM is under the chairmanship of a retired banker, Mr. Afzal Khan, who formerly managed various regional branches of the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT) including the local subsidiary.