Tropical storm Maria moving and turning East
Dominican Republic evaluates damage after Hurricane Maria
Tropical storm Maria has finally weakened from a hurricane for over a week, to a tropical storm at the moment. Even though its path continues offshore, it still hit North Carolina with strong winds and dangerous levels of water. The National Hurricane Centre expects the tropical storm to take a turn east, which makes even people in the UK worry about heavy rains and strong winds this weekend. This is in combination with the Hurricane Lee, which is strengthening in the middle of the ocean.
The effects at this moment are far from, what countries such as Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have experienced when Maria was at full strength. A produce broker from Puerto Rico explains that communication is still very limited on the island, but he is sure there is damage to all crops on the island: Crops such as plantains, bananas, papaya, mango and coffee. According to Carlos Flores Ortega, the secretary of the Department of Agriculture in Puerto Rica, Maria has eliminated about 80% of the value of the crops, which means approximately USD 780 million as a preliminary figure. Although Puerto Rico is importing 85%, the economy was based on the production of, for example sugar cane, tobacco and citrus.
Data released by the Dominican Association of Banana producers, states that in the Northwest of the country 85.612 tareas (approximately 5400 hectares) of banana production has been flooded. This association groups 356 banana producers in the regions Azua, Santiago, Valverde and Montecristi in the Northwest region. Itís mentioned in the Dominican press that this is the region that is suffering from big losses because of the heavy flooding. This is not mainly caused by Maria, because Irma had damaged a large part of the banana production before then.
The Dominican press mentions that the director of the Special Fund for Agricultural Development, Casimiro Ramos has visited the regions of La Victoria, Hacienda Estrella and Monte Plata, which are located in the South of the country. He says damage to the fresh produce is minor in this area, however the soils are very saturated because of the amount of rain that has fallen. Producers that are affected can apply for special loans with lower interest rates through this organisation (FEDA) or through Banco AgrŪcola.
The president of the Dominican Association of Hacendados y Agricultores (ADHA) said to the Dominican press that the crops most affected are plantains, cacao, rice and more. He asked for assistance for the small- and medium sized cattle farmers and agricultural producers in the eastern region of the country. Itís explained that houses were destroyed by the strong winds and floods, but a large part of the infrastructure in that area was also affected. These small to medium agricultural producers donít have the resources to replenish their crops and repair and rebuild their houses and facilities.
Publication date: 9/27/2017
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