Hurricane Fiona Damages Banana and Cacao production in Dominican Republic

Insight Focus

  • 10% of the Dominican banana crop could be damaged.
  • 4,000 Dominican cacao farms have been critically damaged.
  • Sugar cane seems to have been unscathed.

On September 19th Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic. The heavy rains and wind gusts caused catastrophic damage to the Caribbean Island. The Dominican secretary of agriculture stated, “the damages will not surpass the ones of Hurricane Maria, but they will still be in the millions.” The hurricane affected mostly the island’s northern part, wreaking havoc on the banana and cacao industry.

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Hurricane Fiona making landfall in the Dominican Republic (Source: CNN)

Banana Industry

The banana industry was gravely affected by Hurricane Fiona. When winds reach 25 knots, there is a high chance of banana plants breaking or uprooting. Winds of over 70 knots have the potential to destroy an entire plantation. Hurricane Fiona had winds of about 80 knots. The Dominican minister of agriculture report claims that around 80,000 tonnes of bananas were damaged. This represents approximately 7% of 1.2 m tonnes that the Dominican Republic was expected to produce this year. Hurricane Isaac, the last category one hurricane to hit the Dominican Republic, damaged around 10% of the banana crop.

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Cacao Industry

Hurricane Fiona also impacted Dominican cacao production. The National Confederation of Dominican Cacao estimates that around 4,000 cacao farms suffered immense damage. Most of these farms are in the northeastern provinces of Hato Mayor and El Seibo. In El Seibo alone, it has been reported that around 4,000 tonnes of cacao have perished due to the rain. The damaged cacao represents approximately 5% of the 77,000 tonnes that the Dominican Republic produced in the 2021-22 season. The economic value of this lost cacao is approximately 3.8 USD million.

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What Might Happen Next?

The agricultural damages of Hurricane Fiona will have a significant effect on the Dominican economy but not on the global commodities market. Hurricane Jeanne (category three) caused around USD 73 million worth of agricultural damages in 2004. Then Hurricane Noel (category one) caused USD 100 million worth of agricultural damages in 2007. The agricultural damages from Hurricane Fiona should be around these figures. Yet, at the same time, these damages should not cause a scarcity of bananas and cacao in the world market due to the lack of volume in Dominican production. It will be European buyers usually reliant on the Caribbean producers that will see their supply impacted.

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