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Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. Message Board

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  • LeonMusa LeonMusa Jun 10, 2004 10:14 AM Flag


    Interview of Eric de Lucy by Irmelin Egelhoff "Fruchthandel" of 29 May 2004, special Bananas
    "Proud of our social policy"
    Since the introduction of the Common Organization of the Markets in 1993, the sector of banana of the French West Indies undergoes a major crisis. With the paddle of the modifications of the customs tariffing system, Fruchthandel Magazin interviews Eric de Lucy, the recent President of the Union of the Producer groups of Banana, and requests it to give its opinion on the current situation.
    FH-Magazin: End of last year, you created the Union Producer Group of Banana. Could you subject a first assessment already to me? Did single creation of the commercial office have the hoped effect?
    E of Lucy: The 1st assessment at the end of 5 months of activity is very positive. The concentration of the offer of banana of Martinique, a better quality control, a more global solution of the various European markets, the reinforcement of our links with our best customers ripeners, allowed to better control the marketing of our Martinique origin.
    FH-Magazin: Can you describe us the current situation in the banana sector in the Antilles?
    E of Lucy: For 3 years and particularly since the end 2002, very bad in financial term, the producers inhabitants of Martinique have made since 1993, date of the installation of the OCMB, the considerable efforts in term of improvement of the productivity, of the control of the use of the pesticides in the fields, of the development of the irrigation, the quality of their fruits... For this same period, Brussels has past various agreements with the Americans, all favorable to their multinationals which produce bananas dollars in Ecuador and elsewhere at costs of scandalously low cost. The wages in Ecuador are 50 times less low than in Martinique or Guadeloupe: �2 per day in Ecuador �60 per day in Martinique for which it is necessary to add �40 social contributions i.e.�100 per day. The American multinationals practise economic colonialism like 100 years ago. The producers inhabitant of Martinique are European producers. They feel very badly defended by the European Commission. It is against engagements of social solidarity of the European Community.
    FH-Magazin: Which is the implication of the French Government in the crisis of banana?
    E of Lucy: The French government, our government, took much time to carry out the very difficult situation of the die of West-Indian production. Our government is now conscious of the crisis and the need for engaging with the Commission a dynamic and firm dialogue. In Paris, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Agriculture now know the social and political consequences dramatic of the collapse of the production of the West-Indian banana which employs 20 000 people on a total working population of less than 300 000 people. It is considerable! We, the producers, have our share of responsibility, we were completely divided with 6 producer groups who had competition stupidly.
    FH-Magazin: Which is the current position of Brussels?
    E of Lucy: The position of Brussels seems to us too still much marked by the permanent desire of the police chief Pascal Lamy to always give pleasure with its American counterparts. Recently still within the framework of the agreements of Mercosur - Europe, they proposed to the Mexicans a quota bananas without customs duties. Lamy does not defend the European producers. It is neither honest with respect to the European producers nor acceptable by our governments. Brussels must imperatively show responsibility live with screw of its European producers who they are the French West Indies, of the Canaries, of Madeira or of Cyprus

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    • FH-Magazin: How do you hope to influence the decisions within the EU?
      E of Lucy: The current OCMB, in the organization of its internal shutter, is nothing any more but the shade of the device set up in 1995. We thus will ask very soon for a close agreement with our colleagues canariens and of Madeira, with our respective governments Spanish, Portuguese and French to open with the Commission of the discussions for a profound change of the system of support for the European production. This new device will have to make the commission more responsible for its decisions and the maintenance of a decent income for the European producers of the Antilles, of the Canaries, of Madeira and their ten thousands of farm labourers. It is imperative that this new device is set up for January 1, 2005.
      FH-Magazin: Could you describe the stakes for West-Indian banana at the time of the release of the market of banana in 2006?
      E of Lucy: What you call the release of the market, is, I suppose, the installation of the single tariff. This tariff only puts an end to the system quotas but those were so generous and surplus that the most voracious multinationals as Chiquita wish their maintenance. The agreements made in 2001 between Mr Lamy and Mr. Zoellick stripped the European producers and their traditional operators of their licence to give them to Chiquita and its allies Dole and Delmonte. This represents for "the 3 sisters" a secure income. The bet of the tariff only is that of the capacity of Europe to resist pressures of the American multinationals. The commission very low goes it with a tariff only, to encourage the "colonial" exploitation of tens of thousands of Ecuadorian workers and Central America among which thousands of children who work in the medium of the clouds of chemicals. The Commission will have to take its responsabilities. The tariff only is not spring of the European producers who we are, proud of our membership in Europe and the social policy that we divide. On our premises, many farm labourers became them even producers. On our premises, the worker is remunerated according to European standards', respected in his rights social and trade-union such as they are recognized by the most advanced Community countries. If Europe is Europe of the humans right, our banana is well the banana of the humans right. It would be necessary well that the Lamy Police chiefs and Fischler decide soon to respect and to support that. As regards the responsibility for the European producers for the Antilles, we will have to direct us, without wasting time, in 2 directions which seems to me priority. The first in a strong action of identification and valorization of banana of Martinique and banana of Guadeloupe. We are too often confused on the racks of the retailer with the other African origins, for example. The second, which is already firmly started since January 1, 2004 with the installation by the Union of the Groupings of a rigorous schedule of conditions and a supervising authority so rigorous quality him, is the improvement of the quality and the homogeneity of our banana in spite of the great diversity of our producers.
      Translated from German

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