A quarter of farms flooded for major banana exporter

bananas shutterstock PBUK

The second-largest supplier of bananas to Great Britain has around a quarter of its crop under water in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to a leading industry body. 

Dominican Association of Banana Producers (ADOBANANO) technical department representative Julio Cesar Estevez said the industry had been hit by two powerful hurricanes over recent weeks.

“There are two separate weather phenomena,” he told PBUK.

“Hurricane Irma brought strong winds that resulted in the destruction of trees, while Maria has caused widespread flooding and we have still not been able to quantify the damages.”

The eye of Hurricane Irma passed alongside the north coast of the country on Sept. 7, while Hurricane Maria passed nearby during the middle of last week.

“So far we have more than 100,000 tareas (6,288 hectares) flooded but we can’t say if they are all going to be affected,” he said, noting there was a total of around 400,000 tareas (25,152 hectares) of banana plantations in the country.

He said the northwestern provinces of Monti Cristi and Valverde were the most heavily affected banana-growing areas. The latter province accounts for around 65% of national production.

Estevez explained the Yaque del Norte river had overflown as a result of Hurricane Maria, heavily affecting the banana farms in nearby areas.

He said that as of a couple of days ago much of the water had receded, but it was unclear what the overall effect would be on production volumes.

Aside from the flooding, around four million trees throughout the country have been damaged due to the strong winds brought by Hurricane Irma. 

The representative added that the industry had been expecting an oversupply situation prior to these recent weather events, but that is no longer a concern.

“Before this we didn’t have a market for some of the fruit,” he said.

Data from UN Comtrade shows the Dominican Republic exported US$444.7 million (£332.2 million) worth of bananas in 2016. 

The top markets have historically been the UK and Sweden, followed by other European nations to a lesser degree such as Belgium, Spain and Germany.

Related story: Hurricane Maria brings flooding to Dominican Republic banana plantations

Photo: www.shutterstock.com
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