HC Deb 24 July 1946 vol 426 cc7-8W
44. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what contingent plans exist regarding supplies of bananas from West Africa and from other Colonies; what are the main business concerns dealing with the export of this fruit to this country; what is the estimated volume and financial value of this trade relating to this country during the next few years and the percentages controlled by each of the main firms; and to what extent production has been restored to its prewar level.

Mr. George Hall

Although bananas are grown as local food in most tropical Colonies, substantial export industries exist only in Jamaica, the British Cameroons and Fiji. Cameroons shipments went mostly to the Continent before the war, whilst Fiji's main markets were in New Zealand and Australia. The total export trade prewar was in the region of 400,000 tons per annum of which 75 per cent. came from Jamaica and 15 per cent. from the Cameroons. Shipments of Jamaica and Cameroons bananas to the United Kingdom are at present made by the Government of Jamaica and by the Custodian of Enemy Property in the Cameroons respectively. The former arranges sales to the Ministry of Food through the agencies of Elders and Fyffes Limited and the Jamaica Banana Producers' Association Limited who handle 80 per cent. and 20 per cent. respectively of the trade and are paid a fixed commission by the Jamaica Government. The agency employed by the Custodian of Enemy Property in the Cameroons is Elders and Fyffes Limited. Production for export in Jamaica this year will be in the region of six million stems (compared with the peak prewar figure of 20 million stems). Some 25 per cent. will be shipped to Canada and the balance to the United Kingdom under the arrangements referred to above. The value of United Kingdom shipments will be in the region of £2¼ million. It is hoped that in the next year or two Jamaican exports will exceed 10 million stems, but it is impossible to give any estimate of value of prospective shipments to the United Kingdom. Only one shipload of Cameroons bananas has so far been made this year and owing to damage done by a tornado last March further shipments are unlikely until next year. It is in any case estimated that the potential production has dropped to about 60 per cent. of the prewar level. Long term marketing arrangements are still under consideration both in Jamaica and in the Cameroons. I am not yet able to make a statement on the former, but as regards the Cameroons I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement which I made in the House on 9th July to the effect that the formation of a Government sponsored organisation to operate the ex-German plantations in the Cameroons was under consideration.