Minister urges support for banana cutback

Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar, right, and Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson work in a banana field last week as part of “Operation Cutback” (Photo:

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Vincentian farmers, including citizens with backyard gardens, are being encouraged to support “Operation Cutback”, aimed at ridding the country of the 350 acres of black sigatoka infected banana and plantain plants.

Minster of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, who has been in that position for three weeks, said on radio on Monday that he has already seen inoculum levels fall from 5.5 to to 4.5, since the operation began two weeks ago.

Inoculum, at its highest, is at Level 10 and agricultural officials are hoping to reduce it to Level 2 “to be safe for us to replant” bananas.

He said that once a banana plant has six or more leaves turning black — “beyond the potential to be retrieved”, the famer should cut down the plant. Otherwise, he said, the fruit would be extremely small, of very poor quality, and inedible.

“The judgement call is, do I look at the standing plant and say ‘I believe it is going to shoot (flower) in the future and I … don’t want to cut it down because it is my source of income’,” Caesar said.

“The point is, once you receive instructions from the Ministry of Agriculture, they have the scientific data, they have done the scientific analysis, they are the scientific experts, the plant is not worth keeping. It is actually causing more harm than good because these are sources of the inoculum,” he said.

Caesar said that while most farmers are cooperating, some are asking to be compensated while others continue to blame government inaction last year for the spread of black sigatoka.

“What I want to say this morning to all farmers is that we have to embark and basically get on board with Operation Cutback. Once you have been advised by the Banana Unit, by the extension officers, that a particular field cannot return to a state of production, I am asking you, as the Minister of Agriculture, to cut back your field. And when I say cutback, let me be very frank, to cut down your field,” he said.

He said that agriculture officials would be seeking the assistance of the Ministry of Health to ensure that citizens comply, adding that farmers who resist Operation Cutback will be served a notice.

“But … I really don’t want it to get to the stage where notices are being served,” he said, adding, “… most farmers are actually buying in to the cut back process.”

Caesar said that he has been liaising with former agriculture minister, Housing Minister Montgomery Daniel, who was head of the ministry last year, when agriculture officials failed to spray against black sigatoka.

Caesar, a former tourism minister, said that banana is going to play a critical role because it has a secure market both extra-regionally and regionally, notwithstanding competition from Guyana and Suriname.

He said that the on-going efforts are part of the exercise to rebuild the industry after the drought and Hurricane Tomas in 2010, and flash floods, black sigatoka and moko diseases last year.

“It is not going to be an easy task but I am asking all farmers to be hopeful,” Caesar said.

He said that farmers who replanted their fields after Hurricane Tomas, which destroyed 98 per cent of banana plants, were at point where their bananas were fruiting and got discouraged after the black sigatoka crisis last year. Many of them, he said, abandoned their field.

He said that it is important that while agriculture officials spray against black sigatoka, farmers de-leaf or cut down, accordingly, bananas plants that are showing evidence of the disease.

Famers in some parts of the country, Caesar said, are rejoicing, having brought the disease under control in their fields.

He reiterated a point made in Parliament recently that the disease must be dealt with in a scientific ways and asked citizens to leave politics out of the discussion.

Caesar called for a “united effort”, saying that as Agriculture Minister he cannot do it alone but has to work in sync with farmers, and limited resources.

He said that farmers are important in helping to spot pests and diseases and that he has begun to decentralised resources away from capital Kingstown and is moving to fully utilised the agricultural headquarters in the three regions across the country, including sending a senior official to each region to deal with localised problems.

“So the game plan is that we continue Operation Cutback. We are asking for the buy-in of the housewives, we are asking for the buy-in of all the farmers and once we bring down the inoculum levels to Level 2, then it is safe to replant bananas,” Caesar said.

He said that in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cutback, farmer should plant one or two cycles of a short-term crop instead of planting bananas since the inoculum would still be in the field. Agricultural produce marketer Vincy Fresh will assist in selling these produce, the Agriculture Minister said.

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10 thoughts on “Minister urges support for banana cutback

  1. Total waste of time and money, I have given you professional and expert advice in a previous blog some weeks ago.

    I believe you are trying to fool the people into believing that you tried, but when you ultimately fail can say “We tried”.

    Stop this fraud and do the job properly.

    Posted by Peter | March 13, 2012, 09:56
  2. Frankly, I believe the farmers should be compensated or the previous minister fired. The new minister is asking farmers to cut down their banana fields and then what?
    The minister should go out and visit all farming communities, and then farmers may take him seriously. Just like there are police stations on every street corner, there can be agricultural office and personnel in every farming community. The minister should not rely on using the radio, or even the written media to get his message out. Get out there and meet farmers face to face.

    Posted by Vere | March 13, 2012, 18:16
  3. Listen people, dispite all the ole talk the “ULP empty buckets” want to put forward, what we have here is total disaster for governance. What we are witnessing before our very eyes is the operations of a “loud-mouth political crazyman” sitting in the office of the Prime Minister and systematically destroying our country.

    At the end of the day, there is need for some law or action to hold this PM accountable for “wickness”. This is not just a bright boy lawyer, faking his way and fumbling in the dark, this is a man who, guided by his weird political ideaology, wants to have the whole nation groppling at his feet.

    PM Ralph seem to have a deep fear for anyone who have resourses or power that can be used against him. This thing Ralph ha-up with economic citizenship… ha very little to do with protecting country, yo know. Ah tell all’yo, Ralph nah kay “one fleep” about “Vincentianhood”. The only thing Ralph cares about is Ralph. I believe Ralph will probably sell this country and its people, if it would keep him in powa for ever… So Ralph is against this thing because he na want any body with money to compete wit he. So he against anyone with money in the country who na supporting he and the ULP.

    Ralph believes that Vincentians are a bunch of greedy money-loving bastards. In Ralph’s mind, the typical Vincentian will sell dem MOMMA for money.. especially if dem poor and catching dey backside. The mo a dem people in the country, the mo Ralph could buy….. Money fo “Special Project”.. my black balls. Way all’ yo think that for? So people with big money, who are independent, and who are not prepared to take Ralph’s sh*t will always be a problem fo Ralph.

    So Ralph remember how banana farmers use to live big. He remember that because they had money, they couldda show NDP dey middle finger anytime. They weren’t dependent pon government. They were independent people. To Ralph, that is a clear and present danger. So what was Ralph’s Banana plan he bragged about? It is here! Mash up the banana industry. Put some ah the farmers pon poor relief and ..”middle finger” …fo the rest ah dem. Now the poor farmers have no power to threaten his powa. BUT ALL” YO TELL RALPH… THINK AGAIN. This is not how this sh*t gwine pan out. He knows this. So now he ha poor Minister “Sabotan” trying to do? Just what he ha them Permanent Secretaries ah do… Clean up Ralph’s Sh*t.

    Could somebody explain to me what kind of man will virtually preside over the destructing of the livelihood of so many of the very people he claims he loves so much, and who are so loyal to him personally? What kind of man will turn around and tell the very farmers, whose livelihood he has caused to be destroyed, that what he has done for them is so great that no other government has come close. Now, joke aside, tell me what kind of human being is this?… But you know what? Plenty ah them still believe Ralph. Some body carry these people for a sap between ah river and the sea… dem blight.

    Posted by roinuj | March 16, 2012, 17:14

    You sound like one of those DERANGED REDNECKS from the DEEP SOUTH of America who spews garbage on a daily about President Barack Obama.

    Posted by vincypowa | March 17, 2012, 13:23
    • THANK YOU VINCY POWA. Coming from someone so obviously politically metally derranged, I take that as a complement. Despite yo’ “shit talk” though, I challenge you to show me where I am wrong. There is evidence to support everything I say. Notice I don’t just talk for talk sake. I talk where there is evidence on which to draw inferences and thus support what I say.

      You see there is a difference between me and you. I don’t owe Ralph and ULP anything. Obviously, you do. You are so in love with Ralph that all the evils he has perpetuated in this country eludes you or they become “right” because in your mind, Ralph is infallable. Ralph is god. You call that political loyality, I call that “idolatary”. You beat up pon Arnim and other NDP people like it was your religion. You see nothing wrong with that. But when other people counter your “religion” and point out Ralph’s and ULP’s evil, you think dem “the devil”. You call that “patriotic” but I call that “hypocracy”. You think Ralph is the savor of the people, I think, that from his actions, he is a political saddist who takes and joy delight in the destruction of people who have differences with his political ideology. In fact, he deliberately sets out to destroy anyone who crosses his path. You call that “Genius”. I call that “Psychopath”

      So both of us will never see eye to eye on Ralph. You have your mission. I have mine. You have your reasons to be this politically deceived. I have my reasons to expose Ralph’s deceptions. Calling me…. like the DERANGED REDNECKS from the DEEP SOUTH of America.. Tell me, Wha that suppose to do? eh? Mek me shut up? Yo’ Mad. It changes nothing. The botton line is this:….. AH TRUTH ME AH TALK.

      Yo’ People are so pollitically mentally “messed” up that everything you say is up side down. So when you say “Garbage” that means “TRUTH”. BTW, Ralph is nothing like OBAMA( OBAMA does not try to destroy his opponents by using “racist” remarks)

      Posted by roinuj | March 19, 2012, 11:38
  5. Another thing VINCY POWA! Have to agree with two things in your last post to which I responded.

    First you said POOR U. I agree with that one. Me? since ULP came into Powa, I have gone from a man who couldda feed he family comfortable, and still buy a drink on Friday evening fo me friends, to a man, who catching he backside. Today, under ULP, and for the first time in me life, me poor like a “chuch mice”. Catching me “asks” to pay water bill, light bill, buy food and pay me house and land taxes. Further, me children can’t get wuk because I vote ULP in 2001, but change to NDP after I see all the sh*t Ralph wanna put pon we people. Fo’ that me and me picknie dem ah suffer real bad. So POOR ME!

    Second you say me like the deranged Rednecks. I agree with you 100% on that one too. Man I gwine crazy’ cause Ralph and ULP got dem hands pon me throat … squeeing the living sh*t outta me. That is why me neck so “RED” and thay why a sound like a crazyman. Me havfa fight all’yo like a “fleeping” crazyman. Me neck “RED” but a still ha life. So I gwine be like a crazyman pon all yo backside till this pressure pon me neck gone. But right now me neck real… “RED”.

    Posted by roinuj | March 19, 2012, 16:43
  6. Roinuj.. brillant response to VINCY POWA!

    Posted by WEHHA | March 19, 2012, 18:31
  7. WOW, VINCYPOWA, what a powerful statement from ROINUJ. You and your Marxist scum bag master should be ashamed that a man has been brought so low.

    Posted by Peter | March 19, 2012, 20:44
  8. ROINUJ, the GAME between West Indies and Australia is SOLD OUT and still VINCIES looking to BUY TICKETS. I wonder where they got all that money from since the country is BROKE.

    That said; who is PAYING your INTERNET BILL since you’re CATCHING YOUR BACKSIDE?


    Posted by vincypowa | March 20, 2012, 00:18
  9. VINCYPOWA, everyone knows that over 50% of those at the match got free tickets. Children and over 55, free. If they didn’t give away these tickets the stadium would of been at least half empty.

    It seems just about everything you have ever posted is based on lies, but sport, how can you lie about sport.

    The country is broke, you know that, Gonsalves knows that, and everyone knows that.
    Hospitals and clinics still short and in many cases without supplies of critical medicines and dressings.
    Hundreds of Kingstown traders owed money by the government some for up to 3 years.
    Truck drivers from Georgetown owed money for work they did following the hurricane and the floods.
    Farmers who had there land taken for the airport at Argyle, still not paid for their land.
    Banana industry completely wrecked because the government could not afford to spray against disease.
    Roads riddled with holes and serious damage because the government has no money to repair them.
    Government workers and some teachers being paid weeks and sometimes months late.
    Payment to poor and disabled people sometimes paid weeks late.
    Argyle Airport virtually at a stand still, lack of money.

    Yet still Venezuela owes us in excess of $10 million, that we have paid out for Cuban workers wages.

    The question is VINCYPOWA, who is paying your internet bill, we already have the answer to that, you are part of the Marxist scum brigade. Paid to attack whatever is true but may damage the ULP of Gonsalves in particular.
    I have noticed in some post’s you have been likened on a number of occasions to Hitler’s collaborators.

    You are such a stupid person that your rants and lies instead of helping the ULP and Gonsalves, actually cause them damage. Because any decent person reading your stupid posts would never support any political group that behaves in such a way and obviously are a group of serial liars.

    What a dreadful life you must lead, where you cannot differentiate between truth and lies. Of course that’s part of Marxist doctrine, isn’t it?

    Posted by Peter | March 24, 2012, 10:00

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