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Aug 23, 2007

Sugar assessment not yet in; damage may reach 20%

Official estimates of the damage caused by Hurricane Dean are at best preliminary, put together in a process better suited to requesting foreign aid than as a blueprint for rebuilding. With regard to agricultural losses the experience is at once both simple and complex. Simple because in the case of papayas there is barely a tree standing in an industry that would have brought in close to thirty-five million dollars in revenue over the course of the year. Figuring that it will take around six months to replant, grow and harvest, you figure a loss of half the year’s revenue: roughly seventeen million dollars. With sugar It’s a lot trickier. Officials at B.S.I. tell us that their teams are methodically inspecting the affected areas and by Wednesday they should be able to release an accurate assessment. In previous storms like Keith and Chantal, most damage was caused by flooding; in the case of Dean, with so little rain, damage would come from high winds. We are told by experts that sugar cane is a very resilient plant that, like most grasses, recuperates well. If similar wind events over the years in Jamaica and St. Kitts are any guide, cane losses should not exceed twenty percent of the crop.

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