Saturday, March 13, 1999 Published at 00:44 GMT
St Vincent hit by banana war
St Vincent's 3,500 farmers take home £80 each on a good week
Caribbean banana farmers say they are already beginning to feel the effects of a trade dispute between the US and Europe.
In the tiny east Caribbean islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, banana farmers say they are already suffering as a result of the transatlantic rift.
The BBC's George Alagiah, who has been to the islands, says it is a war between free trade and fair trade.
St Vincent has about 3,500 banana farmers on small, family-owned plots of about three acres. They rely on selling to Europe.
'Begging for bread'
The farmers, who produce half the island's export market, earn about £80 ($130) in a good week.
Official unemployment on the island stands at more than 30%, but correspondents say this could well be an underestimate.
Sir James Mitchell, Premier of St Vincent and the Grenadines says: "We are talking about a war between 25,000 farmers in a property-owning democracy in the Caribbean and one plantation owner and 19th Century slavery in Latin America."
Our correspondent says that St Vincent's government knows it must diversify but it will not replace family-run farms with plantations - for them that would be a throwback to the island's bleak history.