Cuban Technology to the rescue of the Banana Industry

A Cuban delegation is currently visiting St. Lucia at the invitation of former Agriculture Minister, Cassius Elias with the support of the Cuban Embassy in St. Lucia.

For several months now Mr. Elias has been seeking out opportunities to get business persons in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors to seek to sharpen their skills to produce quality products which could be exported.

Two meetings were held at the Auberge Seraphine Hotel in the months of June and August this year, bringing together persons who are engaged in production, marketing, management consultancy, shipping, etc.

Throughout the discussions, Mr. Elias kept lamenting the state of the Banana Industry and challenged himself to do something to save the Industry.

His next step was to undertake a business trip to the Republic of Cuba where he spent a week discussing the prospects of adopting measures to utilise the Banana tree and its fruits as is being done in Cuba by Biofam, a Company involved in producing Biological Pharmaceutical products

The outcome of his discussions in Cuba has resulted in the visit by a three member delegation, comprising of Senior Executives of Biofam and the Director of the Banana Programme within the Ministry of Agriculture in Cuba.

The week long visit will expose the members of the delegation to the players within the Agricultural Sector and officials of various Ministries and Corporations including members of the Private Sector.

The visit is much more than a fact finding trip. The Cubans are ready to do business. They brought a number of samples of products currently produced and sold in 22 countries around the world. Mr. Cassius Elias has founded a company - Caribbean Best Export Promotion Services Ltd. which has been awarded the local representation for Biofam. Once there is a will there is a way and it looks as though the newly established relationship will open the door to doing business with Cuba in a meaningful manner.
His Excellency, Victor Ramirez, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in Saint Lucia is very keen on the initiative as he welcomed the first Cuban Business Delegation since the establishment of the Embassy in Saint Lucia.

Apart from the several meetings and site visits undertaken by the visiting delegation, an all day Business Forum was held at the Auberge Seraphine, Vigie on Thursday, December 5, 2002 where the delegation was welcomed by local business person and heard speeches from Honourable Damian Greaves - Minister for Health and Human Services and Honourable Senator Julian R. Hunte - Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation. Mr. Wayne Vitalis, General Manager of the new National Development Corporation also addressed the gathering and promised the full support of his agency. The opening ceremony and the Business Forum was chaired by Edward Harris, a Director of the newly established company.

Mr. Elias at the closing ceremony remarked that it was one of the happiest days in his life and committed himself to ensuring the success of the venture. It was time for celebration thereafter at a cocktail reception which was hosted later in the evening at the Ambassador's residence.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Stay tuned!!