Sun | Feb 18, 2018

This is a nightmare! Flooding wipes out banana farm twice in six months

Published:Sunday | October 30, 2016 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr
Frederica Appleby, a banana farmer at Windsor in the Rio Grande Valley of Portland, bemoans her loss
Three days of heavy rainfall destroyed approximately 700 fully grown banana trees owned by Frederica Appleby, a farmer at Windsor in the Rio Grande Valley of Portland.
Flooded farmland at Berrydale in Portland, with the Rio Grande flowing in the background.
A woman walking along a stretch of roadway leading to a bridge at Coopers Hill in the Rio Grande Valley of Portland in search of her five cows, which have not been seen since Wednesday.

Windsor, Portland:

For the second time in six months, farmer Frederica Appleby has lost hundreds of fully grown bananas on the verge of harvesting. This, after three days of torrential rainfall last week, which ravaged her farm at Windsor in Portland.

Appleby, who also suffered a heavy loss in April of this year when the Rio Grande washed through every inch of her four and half acres of farmland, is now struggling to come to grips with a second straight loss from a livelihood in which she has invested heavily.

"This is like a nightmare," she told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I am yet to recover from the devastation in April of this year and now I am facing another catastrophe. I was banking heavily on this crop to save the day, but now I don't even know where to turn. I have lost approximately 700 fully grown banana trees, which were ready for harvesting in a month's time, but now all is gone."

Standing on the farm, as far as the eyes can see, the flattened banana trees tell it all. Yet, amid the devastation, a sole banana plant covered with blue plastic, an indication that harvest time was just around the corner, remains standing.

Appleby, who is now giving serious thought to relocating, as she was becoming more and more frustrated with her back-to-back losses, is not the only farmer affected for the second time in less than a year.

Her neighbour, Vincent Barrett, also lost one acre of the fully grown fruit. Both are now seriously considering whether to undertake the ordeal of replanting or to count their losses and flee their flood-prone properties.

Appleby said, "I have been involved in banana farming for more than 20 years, but I am not even sure that I will be able to recover from this loss. My teenage daughter cried when we woke up that morning and realised what had transpired. She is passionate about farming and this has really taken a toll on her."

Estimated cost of damage to agriculture produce in the Rio Grande Valley following the recent six days of continuous, heavy rainfall could run into hundreds of millions of dollars. A team from the Rural Agriculture Development Authority is scheduled to begin assessment of the damage later this week.