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Banana producers from La Palma access the farms located outside the exclusion zone to harvest and water the crops

The Cabildo de La Palma has designed an operation for the banana sector to try to save part of the harvest and thus reduce the impact that the volcano is having on the economy of the more than 5,000 families that live from this fruit in the surroundings of the Aridane Valley, where there are about 1,100 hectares of banana trees, more than half of which are isolated by the passage of lava.

The banana producers of the Tazacorte farms located outside the exclusion zone were able to access their plantations on Thursday, in shifts and only with the authorization of the Pevolca management (The Canary Special Plan for Civil Protection and Emergency Assistance for Volcanic Risk), to collect the fruit and water the crops.

According to the president of the Association of Organizations of Banana Producers of the Canary Islands (Asprocan), Domingo Martin, the main problem producers from La Palma face is the amount of volcanic ash that falls on the plantations and that 'scratches' the fruit. "It does not affect the internal properties of the banana, but it does affect its appearance, which prevents it from being marketed as it does not meet the qualities expected by the consumer," he stated.

Producers have been able to continue watering their plantations because a central pipeline has resisted the passage of lava flow –because it is buried– and miraculously it still works, Martin stated. If this pipeline gets blocked, it will be necessary to resort to the emergency desalination plants that the Government of the Canary Islands plans to install on the coast to restore irrigation, he added.

The primary sector, which is based mainly on bananas, accounts for 50% of La Palma's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Most of the arable land on the island is devoted to growing bananas, and La Palma accounts for a third of the bananas produced in the archipelago.

The vice president and counselor of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries of the Island Council, Jose Adrian Hernandez, said producers would be able to access the farms located north of the mountain of La Laguna, in Tazacorte, as well as in the areas of El Rowing, Charco Verde, Puerto Naos, and Las Hoyas on Friday, if the evolution of the situation allowed it.

On Friday morning, sources from the National Geographic Institute (IGN) reported that the Cumbre Vieja volcano had a new mouth and, for the moment, they don't know if this new mouth had generated a new track of lava or if it had merged with the one that is currently heading to the sea.



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