Banana producers in the Domnican Republic have been severely affected by the second hurricane in the space of a month. Last week Hurricane Maria struck the east of the country, where the bulk of banana production is located, bringing major flooding in its wake.
Producer associations said it was too early to assess the extent of the damage as many farms were still inaccessible, but losses are believed to be "serious".
The National Confederation of Agricultural Producers of the Dominican Republic (Confenagro) had already asked the government to increase support for banana producers who have been affected by Hurricane Irma.
Confenagro president Eric Rivero said that this was the second major catastrophe the industry had suffered in the space of a year. The sector was hit by devastating floods at the end of 2016, and was estimated to have caused “billions of pesos in losses”.
With shipments of more than US$300m per year, the banana sector is the backbone of the Dominican Republic’s agricultural exports.
Rivero indicated that the floods of 2016 had affected more than 80,000 banana plants with the subsequent winds of Irma causing estimated production losses of 40 per cent “which is equivalent to at least 1bn pesos”.
Rivero called on the government and the producers, through their institutions like Confenagro and the Dominican Association of Banana Producers (Adobanano), to agree on a rescue agenda for the sector.
Among the measures proposed by both entities are a request to extend credit lines for at least one more year, and to suspend the interest generated by the loans from the Agricultural Bank and Reserve Bank with banana and banana producers.
They are also calling for the affected producers who have not benefited from financing to be granted new credits to recover their plantations.