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Banana Industry

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 26 May 1943

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14. Mr.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the position of the Jamaica banana industry; what assistance is now being given to this industry by His Majesty's Government; and is it planned to maintain the banana plantations or to allow them to go out of production?

Since November, 1940, shipping difficulties have seriously affected the export of Jamaican bananas, and exports have now virtually ceased. To prevent a collapse of the industry. His Majesty's Government have met the cost of the purchase of all exportable fruit after allowing for the proceeds of any sales. This has enabled the employment of labourers to be continued for the maintenance of the plantations and the transport of the fruit. Practically the whole crop is now consumed locally. His Majesty's Government have recently agreed to- continue to assist the industry on the above lines for a further period of two years from 1st July, 1943. This assistance is designed to ensure that a sufficient nucleus of the plantations is maintained in a state of efficiency to enable a rapid expansion to normal proportions of trade to be effected when exports are again possible.

While the Government subsidy is being continued will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman make sure that the wages of the plantation labourers are not unnecessarily reduced?

Yes, Sir, but I should hope that the machinery would ensure that, subsidy or no subsidy.

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend see that the bananas are used to improve the nutritional situation in the West Indies?

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether the export of bananas from Jamaica to America and Canada has ceased altogether?

Is any research being undertaken into the possibility of processing bananas in order to preserve their nutritional value?