UPDATES: Hurricane Maria devastating banana production in the Caribbean

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29 September 2017
WINFRESH comes to assistance of Dominica

WINFRESH, the largest exporter of agricultural produce from the Windward Islands, has quickly responded to the plight of the people of hurricane-hit Dominica. Working in collaboration with the Dominica High Commission, the Company’s UK operation at Stansted in the United Kingdom, this week, loaded four forty-foot containers bearing relief supplies for Dominica. These were handled with great haste, by WINFRESH UK staff working overtime, to ensure that they were ready for the first vessel sailing from the UK, post-Hurricane Maria. This was generously facilitated by the GEEST LINE, an associated shipping company of WINFRESH, which also provided a freight-free service.
27 September 2017

Dominican Republic: A quarter of farms flooded for major banana exporter

The second-largest supplier of bananas to Great Britain has around a quarter of its crop under water in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to a leading industry body. 
Dominican Association of Banana Producers (ADOBANANO) technical department representative Julio Cesar Estevez said the industry had been hit by two powerful hurricanes over recent weeks.
“There are two separate weather phenomena,” he told PBUK.
“Hurricane Irma brought strong winds that resulted in the destruction of trees, while Maria has caused widespread flooding and we have still not been able to quantify the damages.”
The eye of Hurricane Irma passed alongside the north coast of the country on Sept. 7, while Hurricane Maria passed nearby during the middle of last week.
“So far we have more than 100,000 tareas (6,288 hectares) flooded but we can’t say if they are all going to be affected,” he said, noting there was a total of around 400,000 tareas (25,152 hectares) of banana plantations in the country.
He said the northwestern provinces of Monti Cristi and Valverde were the most heavily affected banana-growing areas. The latter province accounts for around 65% of national production.
Estevez explained the Yaque del Norte river had overflown as a result of Hurricane Maria, heavily affecting the banana farms in nearby areas.
He said that as of a couple of days ago much of the water had receded, but it was unclear what the overall effect would be on production volumes.
Aside from the flooding, around four million trees throughout the country have been damaged due to the strong winds brought by Hurricane Irma. 
The representative added that the industry had been expecting an oversupply situation prior to these recent weather events, but that is no longer a concern.
“Before this we didn’t have a market for some of the fruit,” he said.
Data from UN Comtrade shows the Dominican Republic exported US$444.7 million (£332.2 million) worth of bananas in 2016. 
The top markets have historically been the UK and Sweden, followed by other European nations to a lesser degree such as Belgium, Spain and Germany.
This photo of damage caused by Hurricane Maria to a banana plantation on neighbouring Puerto Rico illustrates the scale of the devastation.

20 September 2017

Initial reports from the devastated island of Dominica estimate that at least six people lost their lives, although all communications have been cut since yesterday. Some 95% of buldings are reported to have lost their roofs. In neighbouring Guadeloupe, two people are reported dead and widespread flooding is hampering rescue work. Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerritt said that "people have lost everything that could be lost".
© Jean-Claude Samyde. Plantation in Saint-Pierre, Martinique
Martinican banana company, Banamart, reported today that in some parts of the island, 100% of the crop was destroyed, with at least 40% in the least affected areas. In Dominica, it is likely that all agricultural production has been destroyed, as landslides have added to the hurricane’s direct destruction. 
The hurricane continues its destructive path towards the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Guadeloupe authorities reported on French media on 21st September that “almost all banana production” was destroyed by Maria.
Sources : diverse Caribbean media, 20/09/2017