Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean: Wreaks Havoc on Agricultural Sector

Hurricane Irma

CLAC-CARIBBEAN, Friday 15th September: CLAC-CARIBBEAN has now assessed conditions faced by producers in areas of the Caribbean that have been affected by Hurricane Irma, and established that some producer groups have suffered up to 60% loss of crops.

In the Caribbean islands, Fairtrade organizations, members of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC), were affected by the passing of Hurricane Irma.

Fairtrade producers on the Windward Islands suffered minor losses after strong winds and rain, according to the three organizations located on the islands. Dominica was also affected by the storm, with damage to 23.6% of hectares in production (i.e 290 hectares). 
Unfortunately, Cuba has suffered the most damage from Hurricane Irma. On the island, specifically in the area of Villas, Santa Clara, where four sugar cane organizations are located. Together, these organizations are made up of 509 small producers with a total area of 2,746.65 hectares in production. There is still much uncertainty about the flooding, and the current conditions of the region due to power outages, lack of water and inability to communicate. 

CLAC has not yet made contact with all the organizations; however, a contact person in Havana is working to find out the current conditions and calculate losses caused by the hurricane. It is estimated that up to 60% of the harvest has been lost.  

In the Dominican Republic, the northern region suffered the most damage; specifically the provinces of María Trinidad Sánchez, Valverde and Montecristi. Most affected products include banana and cocoa. In banana, there are a total of 30 small producer organizations and 20 plantations. There is been an estimated damage of 30% of Fairtrade banana production, equivalent to 4,000 hectares of land. The six Fairtrade cocoa organizations are distributed throughout Nagua, San Francisco de Macorís, Castillo, La Milagrosa and Puerto Plata. 

Though they did not suffer major losses, 26% of cocoa crops were affected by rain water and high winds (16,367 hectares). The worst losses were reflected in diversified crops, such as avocado and lemon, corresponding to more than 18% of the organizations’ production. 
All of the above reinforces the need for us to join together to strengthen the formation and training of Fairtrade producers, so that they can become more resilient to climate change and face the challenges that it implies. 

Marike de Peña, BoardPresident, CLAC sais: "Irma’s damages, coupled with the damages caused by heavy rains in November 2016, have serious consequences for the income of producers and their families, putting future sustainability at risk.”

CLAC continues to monitor the conditions of the affected areas, in order to assist producers and provide them with necessary support.