The Agriculture Sector is showing expanded growth and the review of the output of most subsectors shows high level of production. This formed part of a report to Parliament on Tuesday by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, Hon. Ezechiel Joseph, who noted that notwithstanding the negative impact of climate change, Saint Lucia still recorded 5.8% growth of banana sales to the UK Market and also experienced growth of 7.6% in revenue for 2018. “The undisputed fact is banana exports in 2018 despite the negative impact of Tropical Storm Kirk is the highest in five years,” stated Minister Joseph. “This Government, understanding and appreciating the socio-economic impact of well-coordinated Agriculture programmes on our rural communities, has decided to undertake a focused approach in the implementation of our many programmes.” He referenced the Banana Production Improvement Project (BPIP) along with the financial and technical assistance from the Government of Republic of China (Taiwan) as one such programme. The Minister spoke to specific growth since 2016: From 1,117 acres to 2,669 acres of banana cultivation From 230 farmers to 643 farmers operating 764 bananas farms From 195 farmers selling fruits to the UK market to 291 farmers currently. The Minister noted that there are presently over 290 farmers wanting to be Euro gap certified. “This certification is necessary to allow these farmers to sell farm trade bananas on the UK market. Presently the system allows to certify only 10% of the total number global gap certified farmers per year. This means we can only certify thirty farmers in 2019 if we allow that policy to stand. Stakeholders are in discussion to see what can be done to assist these farmers who are on the stand by list.” The Minister added that with the positive impact of the Banana Production Improvement Programme (BPIP), the stakeholders are projecting a weekly export production of 17,000 boxes; barring any negative impact of climate change and of course the introduction of any new pest or disease. The Agriculture Minister also reported on a recent trip to the UK led by the Prime Minister and with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture. This was triggered after WINFRESH informed the National Fair Trade Organization (NFTO) that they can only guarantee 6,000 boxes weekly of fair trade fruits of which over 4,000 boxes are small fingers. “This situation, if allowed to remain is not favourable and supportive to our programme,” noted the Minister, adding that the trip was very promising. “UGBAN continues to express interest in purchasing Saint Lucian bananas and agreed to a trial shipment of 1,000 boxes for three weeks in the first instance. If these trial shipments proved successful, the company would commit to 3,000 boxes weekly. These boxes are expected to contain twenty-two clusters – six finger bagged fruits. While we were able to get the 1,000 boxes for our first trial shipment, because of the size of our fruits we were not able to get the twenty-two clusters – six finger bagged fruits in our existing box.” Discussions are continuing with the company, noted the Minister and there are possibilities at examining other options such as: less clusters in a box; getting more appropriate cartons which are more suitable to pack the twenty-two clusters or; Looking at the option of selling loose fruits. The Minister reported that the supermarkets in the UK are interested in more small fingers and Organic Fairtrade fruits. “It was generally agreed that there are still opportunities for our conventional standard fruit and there was general willingness to support a Branding Campaign for Saint Lucia Banana in the UK. We agreed to continue discussions on the approach to this campaign.” The Minister added that there will be continued discussion with UGBAN on possible options to satisfy the market in France. There will also be a training programme to be implemented for packers, inspectors and farmers to address quality issues, there is a need to review inspection operation at the IRDC’s and a meeting of stakeholders will take place to decide on the way forward to undertake the branding-initiative.

A Chinese investor reads his newspaper at a brokerage in Beijing Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday and Hong Kong’s Seng index tumbled 1.7% as thousands continued protests against proposed legislation that many city residents fear could further erode the territory’s legal autonomy. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Global shares retreated Wednesday and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell sharply as thousands continued protests against proposed legislation that many city residents fear could further erode the territory's legal autonomy. In midday trading in Europe, Germany's DAX lost 0.4% to 12,104 and the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.6% to 5,377. Britain's FTSE 100 also skidded 0.6% to 7,356. U.S. shares were headed for a weak open as the future contract for the Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.2% to 26,017 while that for the S&P 500 also declined 0.2% to 2,882. The Hang Seng lost 1.7% to 27,308.46 as thousands of protesters, most of them young, prevented lawmakers from entering Hong Kong's government headquarters Wednesday. The demonstrations snarled traffic and delayed a legislative debate on a bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent for trial in mainland China, a proposal that is sharpening fears over growing Chinese control and an erosion of civil liberties in the semiautonomous territory. The crowds overflowed onto a major downtown road as they overturned barriers and tussled with police, who used multiple rounds of tear gas and threatened to use more forceful measures if necessary. The proposed legal changes have spooked investors, Stephen Innes of SPI-Asset Management said in a commentary, as it "could have far-reaching consequences for attracting overseas talent and does question the viability of Hong Kong as a leading financial hub, which of course is spooking property investors." Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4% to 21,129.72 and the Kospi in Seoul shed 0.1% to 2,108.75. The Shanghai Composite index declined 0.6% to 2,909.38. Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged less than 0.1% lower to 6,543.70. U.S. markets had advanced for five straight days since the Federal Reserve signaled it is open to cutting interest rates, but weakened on Tuesday amid concerns that the U.S. trade spat with China could be prolonged and hurt growth in the world's two biggest economies. U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday he expects to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Osaka at the Group of 20 summit. But he said he's prepared to expand existing tariffs if a deal with Beijing falls through. "It's me, right now, that's holding up the deal," Trump said in comments carried by CNBC and other news outlets. "And we're either going to do a great deal with China or we're not doing a deal at all." The yield on the 10-year Treasury has dropped from around 2.50% in early May to 2.12% Wednesday. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.28 cents to $51.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 1 cent to $53.27 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell $1.33 to $60.96 a barrel. CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 108.36 Japanese yen from 108.52 yen on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1326 from $1.1330.


Tourism Minister Kerrie Symmonds

If Kerrie Symmonds had his way, Barbados would have a major iconic Rihanna attraction. Speaking to Loop at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s Caribbean Week in New York, Symmonds, 'Barbados Minister of Tourism, said the Barbados-born pop star has global appeal and Barbados has to recognise her in the way Jamaica does Bob Marley. “Her appeal is global and everyone who has heard of her has fallen in love with her and her music and therefore it is an excellent opportunity to do more with her in terms of branding of stuff in Barbados,” he said noting that they plan to work more closely with Rihanna in education and tourism. With Barbados focused on a more global audience, Symmonds said they are focused on augmenting their product by embracing people with disabilities. “It means that our physical built out attractions and hotels must also have part of the infrastructure must be fitted for people in a wheelchair, blind or hearing impaired,” he said. In 2018, Barbados enjoyed a 2.7 percent increase in stay-over arrivals last year, compared to the corresponding period in 2017. The United States registered the strongest growth with 8.4 percent, producing 204,830 visitors to the island compared to the 189,022 arrivals in 2017. Symmonds said Barbados is now no longer tied to just one market. Traditionally Barbados’ major source market was the UK. “Germany and Canada comprise 25 to 27 percent of the market as well so we have global appeal and because of the global appeal we have we need global standards,” Symmonds said. Symmonds said they are actively looking at new markets. Barbados recently signed a contract with Lufthansa Airlines which will rebrand their domestic carrier Euro wings to become a long haul carrier to provide connectivity to Barbados from every gateway in Europe. From October 28, the airline will operate a thrice-weekly direct flight from Frankfurt, Germany to the Grantley Adams International Airport. To continue to attract visitors, Barbados is adding to its roster of events. Symmonds revealed that a month ago they started Festive Fridays. “It’s not a festival per se but it the re-enactment of the festival experience. It is a craft market by night, first of all, secondly a culinary experience, all Barbadian food is on tap and Barbadian drinks as well, and then on top of that, it is a musical experience because we have our local entertainers performing. “During Crop Over we will be bringing in regional and internationally recognised performers and also a little bit of time for a mini-Kadooment. Every Friday night around 7 pm, the highway is closed off and you have a rhythm section playing and it is jump up time so the visitors off the ship have an opportunity to taste the feel of a Crop Over Kadooment day experience,” he said.

Janet Hardie-Lawrence

The policeman who has been charged with murdering his wife during a dispute at their home in Tower Isle, St Mary last month, was denied bail when he appeared in the St Mary Parish Court on Thursday. The accused, Detective Corporal Kirk Lawrence, was charged just over a week ago with murder in connection with the shooting death of 45-year-old Janet Hardie-Lawrence. Prosecutors and attorneys from the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) objected to bail for the accused, based on the policeman's potential flight risk. In denying bail, the presiding judge took into account that Hardie-Lawrence was unharmed when she was shot multiple times, including six times to the head, according to a postmortem report. The presiding judge ordered the police officer remanded, and set a mention date of Thursday, July 11. Police reports are that on Tuesday, May 28 at about 6:30 a.m., Lawrence and his wife, who was a businesswoman, were engaged in an argument at their house in Jamaica Beach, Tower Isle. Detective Corporal Kirk Lawrence Residents reported that they then heard loud explosions and alerted the police. On their arrival, the accused officer, who is assigned to the Trelawny Police Division, was found by his fellow law enforcers at the main entrance to the house. Hardie-Lawrence was found with several gunshot wounds, and was pronounced dead at hospital. According to INDECOM, which probed the case, the police found two guns, a service pistol and a licensed firearm, which were both connected to the accused policeman, along with 12 spent shells, on the scene. The detective corporal was reportedly questioned in the presence of his attorney, and a file subsequently sent to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), who ruled that he should be charged with murder. There are have been conflicting reports surrounding the couple's troubled marriage. Interestingly, the detective corporal reportedly detailed his alleged troubles in a voice note to his colleagues, in which he reportedly also confessed to having killed her moments before the recording.


Anthony Davis.

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly landed Anthony Davis in a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. According to ESPN, the Lakers have acquired All-Star center Davis from the Pelicans for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round NBA draft picks – including this year's fourth selection. The Pelicans endured a season filled with speculation around Davis' future after the big man requested a trade in January. A reported possible deal with the Lakers was not agreed before the deadline. New Orleans executive vice-president David Griffin said he was confident of keeping Davis after the Pelicans secured the first pick in the upcoming draft. However, Davis – who had no intention of signing a new deal with the Pelicans – is set to team up with LeBron James in Los Angeles. The Boston Celtics were also reportedly interested in Davis but could not strike a deal with the Pelicans.

Netherlands celebrate against Cameroon.

Netherlands booked their place in the knockout phase of the Women's World Cup thanks to a 3-1 win over Cameroon, while Canada beat New Zealand 2-0 to also earn progression. Although things were slightly more straightforward than in the 1-0 win over New Zealand last time out, the Dutch still had to dig deep against a Cameroon side heading for an early exit. Vivianne Miedema opened the scoring with an emphatic header in the 41st minute, though Cameroon hit back a few moments later – Gabrielle Onguene beating goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal to the ball, nodding it around her and slotting home. Netherlands restored their lead just after the interval when Dominique Bloodworth bundled in after a fortunate ricochet in the box. Miedema sealed the points late on, rifling a strike past Annette Ngo Ndom to make her Netherlands' all-time record scorer with a remarkable 60 goals in 77 games at just 22 years of age. Canada had very little difficulty against New Zealand in Grenoble in the day's late kick-off. Although the first half was tight, Canada looked more competent in attack and they eventually opened the scoring just after the break – Jessie Fleming steering home after Nichelle Prince's excellent run and cut-back. From there it was a walk in the park and Prince got herself a deserved goal to wrap upthe win late on, reacting quickest when Christine Sinclair headed against the post from close range. Netherland and Canada will face each other on Thursday for top spot in the group.


Tens of thousands of protesters carry posters and banners march through the streets as they continue to protest an extradition bill, Sunday, June 16, 2019, in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong citizens marched for hours Sunday in a massive protest that drew a late-in-the-day apology from the city's top leader for her handling of legislation that has stoked fears of expanding control from Beijing in this former British colony. Nearly 2 million of the city's 7 million people turned out, according to estimates by protest organizers. Police said 338,000 were counted on the designated protest route in the "peak period" of the march. A week earlier as many as 1 million people demonstrated to voice their concern over Hong Kong's relations with mainland China in one of the toughest tests of the territory's special status since Beijing took control in a 1997 handover. Well after dark, crowds gathered outside the police headquarters and Chief Executive Carrie Lam's office. On Saturday Lam suspended her effort to force passage of the bill, which would allow some suspects to be sent for trial in mainland China. The move did not appease Hong Kong residents who see it as one of many steps chipping away at Hong Kong's freedoms and legal autonomy. Opponents worry the law could be used to send criminal suspects to China to potentially face vague political charges, possible torture and unfair trials. Protesters are also angered over the forceful tactics by police in quelling unrest at a demonstration on Wednesday. Periodically, the shouts of the protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the police headquarters would crescendo into a roar that reverberated through the narrow concrete canyons of the red-light district of Wanchai. Smaller crowds stood chanting outside Lam's office building. In a statement issued late Sunday, Lam noted the demonstrations and said the government "understands that these views have been made out of love and care for Hong Kong." "The chief executive apologizes to the people of Hong Kong for this and pledges to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public," it said. Not enough, said the pro-democracy activists. "This is a total insult to and fooling the people who took to the street!" the Civil Human Rights Front said in a statement. The marchers want Lam to scrap the extradition bill, which is supported by the communist leadership in Beijing, and to resign. The crowds filled a wide thoroughfare and side streets paralleling the waterfront of Victoria Harbor as tourists and shoppers who drive much of the Asian financial hub's economy looked on. Some participants were skeptical over whether having Lam step down would help. "It doesn't really matter because the next one would be just as evil," said Kayley Fung, 27. At the march's end, hundreds sat wearily around the government headquarters. Some were singing, some listening to speeches. Some were just resting. "There isn't really a plan. It's like playing a chess game," said a man who gave only his first name, Mitchel, perhaps fearing trouble with the authorities. Protesters have mainly focused their anger on Lam, who had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule. Many here believe Hong Kong's legal autonomy has been significantly diminished despite Beijing's insistence that it is still honoring its promise, dubbed "one country, two systems," that the territory can retain its own social, legal and political system for 50 years after the handover. The rally drew marchers both young and old, some pushing strollers or carrying slumbering infants. Few wore face masks or seemed to be trying to hide their identities, in contrast with demonstrations Wednesday, when participants expressed worries over possible retribution from the authorities. Protesters also are angry over the way police used tear gas, rubber bullets and other forceful measures as demonstrators broke through barricades outside the city government's headquarters in that smaller but more aggressive protest. The police presence on Sunday was considerably more relaxed, with officers deployed mainly to direct traffic as the protesters wound their way through Hong Kong's commercial center from a sprawling downtown park to government headquarters. Farther down the parade route, mourners lined up to lay flowers and pay respects at a makeshift memorial for a man who fell to his death Saturday after hanging a protest banner that read in part, "Make Love, No Shoot" and "No Extradition to China." The man slipped from the grasp of rescuers after clinging for a time to scaffolding outside a shopping mall. He missed a large cushion set up to capture him and was declared dead at a nearby hospital. Many protesters wore ribbons on their shirts and carried placards showing protesters who had been beaten bloody last week. Pro-democracy activists were calling for a general strike on Monday despite Lam's decision to suspend work on the legislation. Some labor unions, teachers' associations and other groups were planning boycotts of work and classes, demanding the Lam administration retire the proposed amendments and not bring them up again for passage at a later stage. "We encourage all the public to carry on the campaign," said Bonnie Leung, a leader of the pro-democracy group Civil Human Rights Front. "If any new violence takes place, it will be the responsibility of the police." The Communist Party-ruled mainland took control in 1997 with a promise not to interfere with the city's civil liberties and courts. Many in Hong Kong fear the extradition bill would undermine freedoms enjoyed here but not elsewhere in China. "China just wants to turn Hong Kong into another Chinese city," said Alex To, 54, who runs a small business. "Carrie Lam is just a figurehead. Everything depends on the attitudes of the leaders in Beijing." After Lam announced she was suspending the legislation to avoid more violence and allow additional debate, Chinese government officials issued multiple statements backing that decision. Lam, however, made clear she was not withdrawing it. She has sidestepped questions over whether she should quit and also defended how the police dealt with last week's clashes with demonstrators. Lam maintains that the extradition legislation is needed if Hong Kong is to uphold justice, meet its international obligations and not become a magnet for fugitives. The proposed bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China. So far, China has been excluded from Hong Kong's extradition agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record. Prosecutions of activists, detentions without trial of five Hong Kong book publishers and the illegal seizure in Hong Kong by mainland agents of at least one mainland businessman are among moves in recent years that have unnerved many in the city of 7 million.

Hallways of Buenos Aires's subway are lit only by emergency lights during a blackout, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, June 16, 2019. Argentina and Uruguay were working frantically to return power on Sunday, after a massive power failure left large swaths of the South American countries in the dark. (AP Photo/Tomas F. Cuesta)

A massive blackout left more than 44 million people without electricity in Argentina and Uruguay on Sunday after an unexplained failure in the neighboring countries' interconnected power grid. Authorities were working frantically to restore power but only about a half a million in Argentina had electricity back by early afternoon. Voters cast ballots by the light of cell phones in gubernatorial elections in Argentina. Public transportation halted, shops closed and patients dependent on home medical equipment were urged to go to hospitals with generators. "I was just on my way to eat with a friend, but we had to cancel everything. There's no subway, nothing is working," said Lucas Acosta, a 24-year-old Buenos Aires resident. "What's worse, today is Father's Day. I've just talked to a neighbor and he told me his sons won't be able to meet him." In Uruguay, power was being more steadily restored, with lights back on in at least three regions by early afternoon. Officials said they expected most of the country of 3 million people to have light back soon. Argentina's power grid is generally known for being in a state of disrepair, with substations and cables that were insufficiently upgraded as power rates remained largely frozen for years. The country's energy secretary said the blackout occurred around 7 a.m. local time when a key interconnection system collapsed, but the causes were "being investigated and are not yet determined." Brazilian and Chilean officials said their countries had not been affected. Officials were not immediately available for comment, but many residents of Argentina and Uruguay said the size of the outage was unprecedented in recent history. "I've never seen something like this," said Silvio Ubermann, a taxi driver in the Argentine capital. "Never such a large blackout in the whole country." Argentine energy company Edesur said on Twitter that it was "slowly beginning to restore" electricity, and power had been returned to 290,000 customers as of Sunday morning, at least some of whom were in the capital. It said the failure originated at an electricity transmission point between the power stations in Yacyretá and Salto Grande on the Argentine coast. Uruguayan energy company UTE said the failure in the Argentine system cut power to all of Uruguay at one point and much of Argentina. The company said that some Uruguayan coastal cities had service by early afternoon and blamed the collapse on a "flaw in the Argentine network." Argentina's secretary of energy said the power failed at 7:07 a.m. Only the southernmost province of Tierra del Fuego was unaffected. "The cause is still under investigation," the energy secretary's office said. Argentine electric company Edesur said that some 450,000 clients had power restored by 11:53 a.m., with hospitals taking priority. Uruguayan officials did not provide the number of clients with power back, but a growing list of regions with service indicated that restoration was progressing faster there. Several Argentine provinces had elections for governor on Sunday, which proceeded with voters using their phone screens and built-in flashlights to illuminate their ballots. "This is the biggest blackout in history, I don't remember anything like this in Uruguay," said Valentina Giménez, a resident of the capital, Montevideo. She said her biggest concern was that electricity be restored in time to watch the national team play in the Copa America football tournament Sunday evening. Since taking office, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri has said that gradual austerity measures were needed to revive the country's struggling economy. He has cut red tape, and tried to reduce the government's budget deficit by ordering job cuts and reducing utility subsidies, which he maintained was necessary to recuperate lost revenue due to years-long mismanagement of the electricity sector. According to the Argentine Institute for Social Development, an average family in Argentina still pays 20 times less for electricity than similar households in neighboring countries. The subsidies were a key part of the electricity policy of President Néstor Kirchner's 2003-2007 administration and the presidency of Kirchner's wife and successor, Cristina Fernández in 2007-2015. Fernandez is now running for vice president in October elections.