Organizational Background

The Banana Industry had ceased to operate in the export market since August, 2008.  The Industry had been faced with many challenges including five major storms in five years.  With this suspension, banana farmers, especially those in the traditional banana parishes such as Portland, St. Mary, St. James and St. Thomas, focused solely on the domestic market. 2009 was characterized as a year of major changes for the Jamaica Banana Industry and the Banana Board.  The industry adapted to a change in focus from primary production for a traditional export banana market to largely domestic market with expanded value chain for both the banana and plantain sub-sectors.   However, many continued to show an interest in growing bananas for export and had maintained their operations up to standard in compliance with export demands to target high-end retail and hotel markets.

The Banana Board was successfully streamlined to facilitate this expanded and sophisticated domestic trade, with strengthening of its management and re-investment of the Research and Development Department.  Support was provided  to agri-businesses in the banana and plantain subsector to complement the high technology services to primary producers; certification of farms and ripening enterprises; pioneering  in data collection for the domestic market for the Data Bank and general liaison with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA) and other stakeholders in the industry. Backstopping was also given to consultants contracted by the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries (MOAF) to determine the needs of the industry in the new paradigm.

From October 1998 to April 2009 the technical unit of the Banana Board (Research and Development Department) was seconded and operated in the Banana Export Company (BECO). After  several  years without a General Manager, and the recent  demise of traditional exports, closure of the Banana Export Company Ltd. (BECO) and the severe under-capitalization of the All Island Banana Growers Association. (AIBGA), the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) made the prudent decision to re-invest in a general manager and in the highly specialized technical team to be relocated from BECO.

In April 2009 the Banana Board implemented an interim organizational structure (Figure 1) to facilitate the new strategy until a national policy on the sub-sector could be finalized and issued by Government.  This structure included the establishment of a Technical Coordinating Committee and Administrative Support in addition to Catastrophe Fund Management.

This interim structure and its operations were supported jointly by a subvention of JMD 42,413,000 to the Banana Board from the Government of Jamaica for the 2009 to 2010 fiscal period. In that period, the Board successfully implemented a Technical Services Contract with the European Union Banana Support programme (EUBSP) valued at of Euro 317,910. For 2010 2011, GOJ budget support is estimated at JMD74,739,000. The Board will implement a special project with EUBSP grant of approximately JMD50,000,00 in the current fiscal year.

The strategic intervention prevented significant attrition, including that of the only existing technical team with specialized training in banana production and disease and pest management technologies.  It also facilitated the continued management of the Banana Breeding Station and the multiplication of disease resistant varieties; management of the all-inclusive Catastrophe Fund and the inoperative Banana Industry Insurance Fund.

Bananas and plantain remain important sources of farm income in Jamaica, and particularly in the parishes of St. Mary, Portland and St. James, which qualified the Banana Board for competitiveness support from the European Union Special Framework of Assistance to traditional producers of banana. This grant by direct award was approved and financed under SFA 2007.  The new strategy and mandate of the Banana Board is aligned to the age-old objectives of the Banana Board

The Banana Board was established under the Banana Board Act of 1953 and its affairs are closely intertwined with those of the Banana Insurance Act of 1946. The Banana Board is a statutory body and is governed by a Board of Directors, which is comprised of five members, all of whom are appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The current vision of the Banana Board embodies that of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MOAF) and the stakeholders of the banana and plantain industry, as reiterated in the draft National Banana Policy. In 2030 the industry’s vision is for:

A vibrant industry dominated by internationally certified farms; effective market penetration and development; and supported by an enabling policy framework which results in sustained product competitiveness; financially viable farms and the socio-economic wellbeing of communities.

The Banana Board is mandated to implement the National Banana Policy of the MOAF and therefore has embarked on the mission:

To be the premier facilitator of the enabling policies of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; coordinator and advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries for the industry; provider of disaster management, production and applied research services, and organizational support for a vibrant industry of commercially viable, competitive and diversified banana and plantain farmers, producing at international standards to adequately supply diversified markets and ultimately to be effectively responsive to the  needs of  the farming clientele.

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Contact Information
Banana Board
10 South Ave
Kingston Gardens
Kingston 4, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 922-5490
(876) 922-4327
Email: bananaboard@cwjamaica.com

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