MARCH 1999

      1. c/u bananas being cut; m/s banana plantations; m/s workers playing

cricket; l/s banana boat being loaded; m/s banana workers playing cricket on dock


V/O You could say they’re proud of their bananas here. Farming and Cricket… they’re bananas about both. - “My Banana is It” Carlos “Rejector” Providence [from video]

      1. m/s boat at dock, g/v’s loading bananas onto boat

V/O But soon they may have nothing to sing about … their industry faces collapse, victim of the growing trade war between America and Europe.

      1. c/u banana worker on dock

SOT “But it’s our major production. We can’t do without it”


10 00 32.0 banana pallet being lowered onto deck

        1. c/u banana worker in hold

SOT “If you kill the banana you kill the livelihood of the Caribbean people. This is my message to you.”

C/u forklift

10 00 41 17 c/u banana worker on dock

SOT “We will be fighting each other; it will be dog eat dog because we haven’t got anything.”

C/u forklift worker driving in hold; m/s forklift operating as bananas lowered into hold.

10 00 46 09 V/O Ten years ago the banana boats exported 76,000 tonnes to Europe. Today it’s half that amount. The banana growers used to fill much larger boats, but not now. They had to do a direct swap for the smaller ones.

10 01 02 03 c/u bow of banana boat with name, l/s boat from above on hill.

V/O Painted out is the word Chiquita, one of their American rivals who dominate the world market, and now require the larger boats.

10 01 12 07 c/u Nioka Abbott, Banana Farmer; m/s banana farmer cutting bananas; m/s puts bananas down on ground.


V/O Nioka Abbott has been farming bananas for 12 years on her four acre plot leased from the Government. Like many farmers, her work is underpinned by strong Christian beliefs. For her, an American victory in the banana war spells one thing.

10 01 30 08 c/u Nioka Abbott

SOT “It will mean doom. Because in St Vincent, especially in the Windward Islands, we have no other alternative.”

10 01 36 07 l/s banana packing shed at dock; m/s workers unload bananas from truck;

V/O In recent years, banana farmers have struggled to meet stringent EU standards on quality: everything has to be passed by inspectors.

10 01 45 19 c/u Pearlina Pereira, Inspector, Banana Growers Association at station.

SOT “If he gets less than 80% quality then we reject the whole


10 01 50 02 SOT “What would happen to the farmer then”

10 01 51 11 SOT “He doesn’t get paid.”

10 01 54 07 c/u Pearlina packs bananas; c/u green bananas in box

V/O Still, the industry had been recovering from a severe slump. Now, though, farmers are having to think again about how to survive.

10 02 01 00 c/u Renwick Rose, Windward Island Farmers Association, on hill with

banana boat in background

SOT Renwick Rose “If people are faced with the choice between starvation and getting into something else, then they will get into something else.”

10 02 07 02 c/u marijuana plant being cut; c/u marijuana plant; c/u hands rolling

joint; c/u man smoking joint; c/u farmer’s hands works with bananas c/u man working with bananas

SOT banana song

V/O Nebo here is into something else; he doesn’t want his face shown.

Here he’s deflowering his banana crop, but he also farms marijuana,

like some 30% of farmers, we were told. It’s illegal, but he says he has

to do it to make ends meet.

10 02 31 01 c/u “Nebo,” banana farmer [hidden identity]

SOT “Nebo”: banana/marijuana farmer

“I am just a farmer, and I like farming. I love farming. The more the

decline in the banana, the more the production of the marijuana.

Where there is a market, I will plant.”

10 02 40 17 m/s farmer in banana plantation

V/O Nebo will be followed by many, according to some people.

10 02 44 21 L/s to m/s to c/u rastamen walk toward camera on road;

V/O These two men belong to a group called the Alternative Development for the Advancement of People. It used to be called the Marijuana Farmers Association but they decided to change it.

10 02 56 06 c/u Junior “Spirit” Cottle: Alternative Development for the

Advancement of People.

SOT: “If the trade war goes ahead and the United States gets the upper hand we’re going to expect for sure more drug production in the country.”

10 03 07 22 g/vs coastline from boat; m/s rastamen walking along beach to path;

V/O Most of the marijuana or ganja fields are high up the maintains at the north of the island, only reachable by boat.

10 03 15 06 m/s people walking up jungle path; m/s rastas help journalist up path

V/O Getting there is a survival challenge in itself. The crop is

harvested more than 2000 feet up.

10 03 21 13 cutaway to back of man with gun; l/s mountains with small huts

V/O Our guides , at least one of whom was armed, led us along seemingly endless narrow paths, with sheer drops down the jungle covered mountainside.

10 03 36 14 m/s men walking into shelter on mountainside from path; m/s men

and journalist in hut; l/s hut on mountain; c/u men in hut

V/O Finally we reached the plantation hut, where the marijuana

farmers often spend months on end, apparently with little interruption.

10 03 45 01 m/s sitting in hut journalist talking to rastamen

SOT “So the police don’t climb the hill then”

SOT “No man our police they’re not fit man”

10 03 49 19 m/s journalist talking to rastas; c/u hands clipping marijuana;

V/O Marijuana producers can earn 10 to 20 times as much as banana farmers. It’s easy to see why.

10 03 55 13 c/u hands empty bucket of cannabis; c/u compressed cannabis “castle”; c/u cannabis

V/O From large fertiliser buckets…cannabis castles. This would fetch

20 thousand dollars in America we were told.

10 04 05 45 g/v’s men in hut; c/u rastaman talking with journalist;

V/O But for all that, the ganja men, who hump their loads up and

down the mountains daily, say they would rather do something else.

10 04 12 24 c/u Bungo Rasta in hut

m/s Bungo Rasta in hut

10 04 16 16 SOT Bungo Rasta “it’s tough man. We don’t want to do this. We

don’t want to do this. You think I want to raise my children and when they grow up to have to tell them that this was what I was doing… becoming involved in this shit?”

10 04 28 08 c/u Lindsay Taylor, journalist, on hill, holds banana in one hand; pan to wider scene with marijuana plants on hill & dried plant in hand.

PTC TAYLOR “As many farmers here see it they have a stark choice: stick with banana production and lose their livelihoods or come up here to the mountains and harvest marijuana, in the knowledge that they have a ready, if illegal, export market to a country which, as they see it, is hell bent on destroying their banana industry.”


aerial m/s mountain ridge, plants blowing heli taking off; c/u marines in helicopter as it takes off.

V/O Last December the United States was hellbent on destroying the marijuana industry. They sent in the marines, on a joint eradication operation with the Windward Island Authorities. The US said over a million plants, worth a billion dollars, were destroyed.

10 05 03 15 c/u to m/s marijuana farmer weeding with machete (identity concealed)

V/O Today, the ganja farmers are back in business. But by no means are all struggling banana farmers prepared to follow them.

10 05 10 12 c/u Nioka Abbott, Banana Farmer

SOT “Would you ever consider trying marijuana?”

SOT “ No please, I’m afraid of the police.”

10 05 16 01 c/u Cordelia Scott, National Farmers Union

SOT “Some farmers would really rather die than go into the marijuana production, but some will.”

10 05 22 11 c/u Nioka Abbott, Banana Farmer

SOT “Men cannot bear pressure so if our banana flop they will be going into the marijuana.”

10 05 28 18 two shot banana farmer/journalist

SOT “So what you’re saying is that when times get hard the men do

A runner?”

10 05 33 18 c/u farmer

SOT “They run”

SOT “And leave you all to it”

SOT “That is true”.

10 05 38 18 m/s coastguard boat drives past in water; c/u cutaway of driver; m/s

coastguard boat approaches boat; cutaways of coastguard approaching boat; c/u coastguard taking details

V/O The St Vincent Coastguard try to patrol the numerous coves and

inlets that surround the island, but often they can’t keep up with the traffickers, whose boats have more powerful engines. Still, not everyone sees why St Vincent’s hard-pressed authorities should help fight America’s drug war when the US wages a banana war against them.

10 05 58 06 c/u Renwick Rose, Windward Island Farmers Association; port in background. 2-shot Rose/journalist, c/u Renwick Rose

SOT: “we are concerned about drugs just like you are. But you can’t

Expect us to be giving everything and getting nothing in return. We haven’t very many bargaining chips and if that is one of our chips then we have to use it”

10 06 11 20 l/s tropical beach g/vs palm trees, yachts; l/s hotel & beach


V/O In the longer term, the government sees greater efficiency and

diversification as the island’s lifeline. Tourism already generates more

income than bananas.

10 06 22 19 g/vs dam building; m/s workers; c/u workers; m/s down irrigation pipe

V/O EU sponsored irrigation schemes are tripling banana crop yields. But the transition to a non-banana dependent economy is threated by the trade war.

10 06 32 20 c/u St Vincent Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell

SOT: “The solution to the problem is that first of all is that the Americans leave our bananas alone.”

10 06 41 19 m/s farmer field trip on irrigation; m/s farmers

SOT PRIME MINISTER: “Secondly, assist us to build up our infrastructure.”

10 06 47 16 m/s children playing in sand, l/s poverty road, l/s rastamen high on ridge, foreground marijuana, background sea

V/O As the tug of war continues, people here feel they’re defenceless victims. Some may seek refuge in marijuana. But for many, bananas really is it.

10 06 57 15 SOT “My Banana is it” girl;


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