A meeting of African banana producers has been urged to move quickly to take advantage of many local and regional market opportunities, as revisions to the EU banana regime see margins of ACP preferences eroded. In this context it was pointed out that already 90% of Africa’s banana production is consumed within Africa, with bananas playing an important role in national food security. A call was made for more liberalised intra-regional trade in bananas, so as to serve growing urban demand. Intensified efforts to develop processed banana products was called for so as to facilitate consumption and trade. Successful initiatives highlighted included ‘organising growers and adopting product standards’ so as to allow farmers to sell directly to retailers, and the promotion of post-harvest processing by small-scale producers.
Meanwhile the prime minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit has highlighted the importance of signing the Caribbean-EU EPA to preserving existing banana exports to the EU.
Elsewhere the EU-Central American free-trade-area negotiations remain bogged down over market access for coffee, sugar and bananas.
This highlights the importance of domestic and regional markets for African banana production compared to the EU market. This is a very different problem from that in the Caribbean where production for export dominates.