Banana plantations in the Dominican Republic’s key growing region have been affected by flooding from Hurricane Maria after it hit the Caribbean country earlier this week.
On Thursday the storm regained intensity to become a category 3 when it was close to the east coast.
The eye passed around 90km away from the eastern town of Punta Cana, having brought much devastation to nearby Puerto Rico, El Nacional reported.
A representative of the Northeastern Agricultural Association (ASOANOR), which is largely composed of small-holder banana farmers, told Fresh Fruit Portal some plantations seemed to have suffered “serious damage” due to flooding.
Juan Quiñones said it had not been possible to quantify the damage just yet as many farms were still inaccessible.
“We will need to wait until the water subsides to carry out the corresponding evaluation,” he said.
He said the northeast was the Dominican Republic’s leading banana-growing area, as well as the part of the country most impacted by the storm.
“A river overflowed and flooded the farms in nearby low-lying areas, which has wreaked a certain amount of havoc on the small-holder growers,” he said.
The representative added ASOANOR had made contact with some growers and they had reported there were no significant damages from the strong winds.
The association’s members’ leading market is the UK, followed by continental Europe.
According to UN Comtrade statistics, last year the Dominican Republic was the UK’s second-largest source of bananas after Colombia with a total value of US$174 million (£128.7 million).
Worldwide, the Dominican Republic exported US$444.7 million (£328.8 million) worth of bananas in 2016.
The country’s Ministry of Agriculture on Friday announced teams have been sent out to survey damages in affected regions.