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Oct 31, 2001

B.T.L. donates tower to Banana Growers Assoc.

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With most of their crop still lying in the fields, banana growers are feeling pretty vulnerable right now, especially with a new storm threat on the horizon. This afternoon, the Banana Growers Association (B.G.A.) got a welcomed donation from Belize Telecommunications Limited. After their global positioning satellite tower, used to spray the fields to protect the crops against diseases was annihilated by Hurricane Iris, the B.G.A. has been petitioning for support. It turns out B.T.L. had an extra tower on hand and was willing to part with it.

Tony Zabaneh, Chairman, B.G.A.

“Our G.P.S. works from it and our G.P.S. is what controls our spray plane. Fortunately for us my brother’s farm, Johnny, didn’t get affected that much and he needs to have aerial sprays right now and the G.P.S. would really serve for us as a blessing in disguise cause we were looking where would we be able to get one at this time when we don’t even have the money to buy an antenna like this. So we are much appreciative of having something like this being donated to us by B.T.L.”

But in news from the industry, meetings with Fyffes representatives after the storm did not go well. According to representatives of B.G.A., the Irish company has decided that at this time, it will not consider lending the farmers any money to recoup losses. Estimates indicate Iris caused Belizean banana growers fifty-seven million U.S. dollars in infrastructure damages and loss of revenues. Given the poor response, the banana farmers are reviewing other options and lending agencies. According to the association, the earliest production can resume normal activity is May 2002.

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