Christopher Tufton, Jamaica's Minister of Agriculture, has confirmed that the country has suffered damage to 79 per cent of its banana and plantain industry in the wake of Tropical Storm Gustav.
He said that the Eastern Banana Estate and the St. Mary Banana Estate sustained 95 per cent and 60 per cent damage respectively, with the Eastern Banana Estate now closed by the Jamaican Producers Group (JP Group).
Mr Tufton confirmed that the closure meant the loss of 460 jobs, and said that the Agricultural Ministry would step in with US$1.8m to support those displaced by the storm.
"We believe that we can use this event to not only expedite the development of an appropriate strategy for Jamaica's banana industry, but can also to ensure that the use of the rural diversification fund, in areas where banana production is no longer viable, will indeed achieve the overall objective of sustainable development and replace the economies lost by bananas," Mr Tufton said.
A key issues and strategies workshop has been earmarked for 14 October, involving banana industry stakeholders such as the Banana Export Company Limited, JP Group and the All Island Banana Growers Association, to discuss the way forward for the industry.
Earlier in September, JP Group said that it had opted to end the production of bananas for export to the UK, although the group is reportedly considering expanding its production base to Central America in an effort to satisfy demand for bananas in the UK market.