Nearly 30% of Puerto Rico plantain, banana, papaya and coffee crops damaged by Irma
SAN JUAN – Between 25 percent and 30 percent of Puerto Rico’s plantain, banana, papaya and coffee plantations were affected by the wind and rain brought by Hurricane Irma, which tracked close to the island’s northern and northeastern regions Wednesday night, Agriculture Secretary Carlos Flores said.
This represents $30.4 million in estimated losses from the storm, which is heading toward Florida. Flores indicated that many of the farmers have insurance and are in the process of submitting claims.
— Carlos Flores (@SecDAgricultura) September 7, 2017
At least a quarter of the aforementioned crops suffered losses because they were in harvest, said the official, who stressed that the hurricanes slight veer north prevented greater damage.
“In general terms, we have to refine the data, between 25 [percent] and 30 percent has been lost of these crops. We have no loss reports so far in the livestock and milk sector. Milk production remains normal, processing plants continue to operate,” Flores said.
He added that the seven Agriculture Department centers where food is stored for school cafeterias “were not damaged” and can continue to operate.
The Agriculture secretary toured several farms in the southern region of the island, from Guayama to Santa Isabel and Juana Díaz. He spoke to several farmers who informed him that the south did not get as much rain as the rest of the island.
“It’s going to be a difficult job since there are areas that had heavy damages, partial damages and some farms that, thank God, were not damaged. The work has to be done from farm to farm and in the field. The milk, meat, egg and chicken sectors are not seriously damaged,” he assured.
The island must prepare for Hurricane José, a Category 3 expected to affect the Lesser Antilles Saturday morning, and at 8 p.m. had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph) and was moving west-northwest at 18 mph (30 kph). The storm was about 540 miles (870 kilometers) east of the Lesser Antilles. It is expected move north of Puerto Rico, which wouldn’t get hurricane-force winds to its distance.
In the Atlantic, Category 3 Hurricane Jose poses a potential threat for Saturday to some of the same islands ravaged by Irma. Jose has