Jamaica Producers, Trade Winds tackle crop damage post-Beryl

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Companies dependent on their locally grown produce to manufacture products and supply the local market have begun the the process to replant crops destroyed by Hurricane Beryl on Wednesday.

Two of the companies, Trade Winds Citrus and Jamaica Producers expressed gratitude that their team members were unharmed, and their physical infrastructure remained intact.

Trade Winds produces juices under the Tru Juice and Freshhh brands and dairy products under Tru-Milk, Tru-Moo, and Tru-SHAKE. Jamaica Producers owns and operates JP Farms, which cultivates bananas for St Mary’s Banana Chips and St Mary’s Banana Bread.

Peter McConnell, managing director of Trade Winds Citrus, detailed that most of the damage was to the company’s pineapples in Bog Walk, with 15 per cent of the farm flooded and total production loss at five per cent. Total losses are estimated at $20 million.

Peter McConnell, managing director of Trade Winds Citrus

Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 pineapple plants were washed away, and an additional 300,000 plants were flooded after a nearby river broke its banks. The impact was felt on only 25 acres of pineapple, though the company grows hundreds of acres of other crops, mainly oranges.

“Our citrus crops are fine, sugar cane is good … the sargassum that we planted for the cows were blown over, but we are trying to salvage that,” McConnell told Loop News.

McConnell also said the company’s livestock was unharmed, with one of its cows giving birth during the hurricane.

“The cow and the calf are fine, and we have named it Beryl,” McConnell disclosed.

The Trade Winds boss said the company has restarted deliveries and should be “fully up and running on Monday.”

Jeffrey Hall, managing director of Jamaica Producers Group.

The damage to Jamaica Producers’ farm was far more widespread. Jeffrey Hall, the company’s managing director, reported that over 90 per cent of the banana crop on its JP Farms in St Mary was destroyed.

JP Farms is the largest banana farm in the English-speaking Caribbean, with over 300 acres under production. It generates revenues of over $1 billion and is a major supplier of bananas to the retail trade and local hotels.

“The hurricane dealt a significant hit to our farm,” Hall told Loop News.

Hall said the company is committed to returning the entire farm to full production and will make the necessary investments to restore the farm.

“This is not our first storm. We always come back stronger,” Hall said of the business that has been in operation for 95 years.

Hall noted the company has “an incredible and dedicated team” that has already started the replanting process. He expects a return to production in six to nine months.

The eye wall of Hurricane Beryl brushed Jamaica’s southern coast on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.