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Sep 8, 2011

Banana Farms battered for 3rd night in a row

There’s more bad news for the banana growers of the Stann Creek District, whose farms were battered for a third time by thunderstorms on Wednesday night. The first two nights of freak storms caused financial losses estimated at some twenty million dollars and that figure is going up considerably.  In an update via phone, General Manager of the Banana Growers Association, Sam Mathias, told News Five that the losses to farmers have increased significantly and he estimates a twenty-five percent immediate loss in banana shipments to Fyffes in the UK and Ireland. On Wednesday the growers expressed dire need for government assistance and Mathias says that the Minister of Agriculture, Rene Montero, traveled down south today to assess the damage.

Via Phone: Sam Mathias, General Manager, Banana Growers Association

“I’m afraid what has happened is that—and it’s not good news—any plants that were leaning or not quite fallen over have now fallen over. And yes, there are additional losses that have been incurred. We’ve also been told that the weather will continue in the same way for tonight and that’s not a good thing. At the moment I’m standing in the middle of a banana filed with the Minister of Agriculture and the C.E.O. for the Minister of Agriculture just looking at some of the damage. And compared to yesterday, it looks considerably worse.”

Delahnie Bain

“So assessments are ongoing to figure out how much is the actual damage?”

Via Phone: Sam Mathias

Sam Mathias

“Yes, what it looks like is that residual damage, which is damage that you can’t really see to the daughter plants that is being nourished by the mother, with the mother falling down it will severely hurt the daughter and the residual damage will go on I’d estimate for another twelve months. It’s an extended period of production loss.”

Delahnie Bain

“You mentioned that the minister is down there with you, what kind of assistance are they talking about?”

Via Phone: Sam Mathias

“Well the minister has mentioned that the prime minister has been in contact with the S.S.B. and the DFC organizations to try and see what type of financing can be made immediately available to banana growers. To be honest, that’s the kind of response that we need, we need immediate financing to try and get ourselves back on our feet.”

There are also growing concerns about loss of jobs since the cash strapped growers may not be able to continue employing farm workers due to the financial losses. The industry employs over two thousand, five hundred persons.

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