Massive banana, plantain crop loss due to Hurricane Beryl

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Preliminary assessments conducted by the Banana Board show an 80 to 100 per cent loss for bananas and plantains, consequent on the passage of Hurricane Beryl.

The Board has, so far, conducted assessments in the larger banana producing parishes of StThomas, St Mary, Portland, St James, St Catherine, and Clarendon.

General Manager Janet Conie says officers are still on the ground assessing the losses, despite access and communication issues.

“For the commercial banana farmers, which is about 1,564 hectares on the ground, they have experienced about 90 per cent in losses. So, the loss is great, and we are still assessing,” she said.

Conie told JIS News that the focus is now on farmers recovering from this setback quickly.

“We have asked the farmers to, as soon as possible, go back [to their farms]. If there are bunches [of fruits] that are down that you cannot take out right away, we ask that you cover them. If they are exposed to the sun they will be damaged and you can’t sell them. That’s the first thing; and since we are at 80 to 100 per cent damage, that means the plants are down,” she said.

Conie further advised that farmers can leave bunches that are not yet ready, still attached to the plant to promote the fruits’ continued development.

The general manager said where this is not possible and bunches can be sold, “we are asking them to ‘chop up’,” which entails cutting off sections of the plant that are broken or bent, and which may be rotting.

Doing so will prevent the rotting section from affecting the rest of the plant that farmers are trying to revitalise.

“We have been showing in the media how to chop up. How to chop up is very important, because if you don’t do it right, the next crop will be very far. What we ask farmers to do within two weeks of the damage is to complete your chop up,” Conie emphasised.

Additionally, she said the board asks that “if these are fruits that you can hold in cold storage or a ripening room, keep them.”

“If they are in the field, cover them, then try to sell as much as you can. It’s going to take you another nine months to recover, if you follow our instructions,” Conie added.

For more support from the board, banana and plantain farmers are invited to call 876-439-9504.