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Hurricane Sandy Devastates Caribbean Farmland, Farmers

Days before making landfall on the east coast of the United States, Hurricane Sandy devastated crops, infrastructure and lives throughout the Caribbean.

A NASA image showing rainfall caused by Hurricane Sandy throughout the Caribbean. It indicates the path of the hurricane across Jamaica and Cuba.

Photo: NASA

This NASA image illustrates the total rainfall (in mm) caused by Hurricane Sandy as it traveled through the Caribbean between October 18 and 25. The white line indicates the storm's south-to-north trajectory over Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti.

While New Englanders were still bracing themselves for Hurricane Sandy, the residents of many Caribbean countries were already surveying the damage left in the storm’s wake.

Several days before Sandy made landfall in New York City as a Category 1 hurricane, it hit Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic — in some cases as a Category 2 storm.

Cuban Coffee Uprooted

In Cuba, Sandy decimated 20 to 30 percent of the nation’s coffee farms. Roads and processing plants — crucial linkages in the industry’s supply chain — were also destroyed.

Before the storm, forecasts for this year’s coffee crop stood at 5,300 metric tons, already far less than last year’s 7,100-ton yield.

The forecast has now dropped below 4,000 metric tons.

Still Reeling From Isaac, Haiti Fights Sandy

So far, flooding and landslides have claimed at least 52 lives in Haiti, but the storm’s overall toll will not be certain for weeks.

Agricultural regions in the southern third of the country were severely damaged. “Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were severely damaged, so food security will be an issue,” Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told Reuters.

The wind, rainfall and flooding have also damaged roads and other infrastructure vital to the distribution of food throughout the poverty-stricken country.

Experts are also concerned that standing water and other sanitation issues following the storm will exacerbate an epidemic of cholera that Haitians have been fighting since 2010.

In Jamaica, Sandy Goes Bananas

Sandy destroyed an estimated 1,500 hectares of farmland in Jamaica, affecting 11,000 farmers.

Most of the affected farms grew bananas, which is the country’s primary cash crop.

The impact of Hurricane Sandy on North American farmers is yet to be determined.

Read More:

  • Storm Damages Crops In Haiti, Fueling Food Price Woes (Reuters)
  • Cuban Coffee Farms Damaged By Hurricane Sandy (Food World News)
  • 65 Dead As Hurricane Sandy Crosses Carribean; ‘The Whole South Is Under Water,’ says Haitian PM (Calgary Herald)
  • 11,000 Farmers Affected By Hurricane Sandy (Jamaica Observer)
Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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