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Agriculture devastated by passage of Hurricane Tomas

Agriculture devastated by passage of Hurricane Tomas

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The agriculture industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been devastated by the passage of Hurricane Tomas.{{more}}

This is the assessment of the Ministry of Agriculture, which was reported to the nation on Sunday evening, by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves in an address broadcast on the State-owned National Broadcasting radio.

Gonsalves said the Ministry’s preliminary estimates put total losses in the sector at over $67 million, with most of the losses being from damage to bananas and plantains.

The nation now faces the challenge of having to replant, a process with which farmers will be given assistance.

“We have to assist the farmers with not just this replanting, but with income support during the period when the crops are growing…certainly at least seven months,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister said 2,180 acres of bananas, with a value of $22.2 million and $14.4 million worth of plantains, on 1,242 acres, have been wiped out. He also disclosed that last year, bananas earned $22 million for this country, both regionally and extra-regionally.

There was also substantial damage to other agricultural produce including breadfruit, citrus, coconuts, golden apples, avocado pears, nutmeg, pigeon peas, cinnamon and vegetables.

Losses from damage to fruit tree crops have been valued at $18.1 million; condiments and spices at $1.2 million; and vegetables and legumes on an acreage of 23 acres, sustained $3.7 million worth of damage. Additionally, $3.6 million worth of agricultural infrastructure, including houses, greenhouses, farms, fencing etc., was destroyed.

The Prime Minister said Agricultural Region Three, which stretches from Peruvian Vale to Orange Hill experienced 100 per cent devastation. He said in this area alone, over 100 banana packing sheds lost their roofs.

The entire roof at the arrowroot factory at Owia was destroyed.

The Prime Minister said on Monday that a Special Committee on the Rehabilitation of Agriculture, chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and including the Chief Agricultural Office and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture had been set up.

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