By Althea Pascall-Nicholas
THE DESTRUCTION caused by Hurricane Ivan in Grenada and St Vincent has affected the imports of root and tree crops to Trinidad. Caricom Jetty officials yesterday said vessels from those islands, which usually docked at the jetty on Wednesday, did not arrive due to unavailable Customs clearance in Grenada and bad weather in St Vincent. Officials noted that while no direct phone contact had been made with these islands because of downed telephone lines, information reaching Caricom Jetty revealed that a vessel loaded with bananas was unable to leave Grenada for Trinidad because of destruction to the Customs offices, which caused problems for vessels to get the necessary clearances.
The official said they were unable to indicate when the situation would be regularised, since the destruction to Grenada was extensive and would require time for things to return to a level of normalcy. In an interview with Newsday, the National Agricultural Management and Development Company’s (Namdevco) CEO Samaroo Dowlath noted that importation of root crops, namely ground provisions, should not be greatly affected since most of the country’s supplies come from St Vincent. He said the extent of damage to St Vincent crops centred around tree crops from the hillsides, such as bananas, plantains and fruits, noting that things should normalise by next week. He also said the main reason for the absence of the St Vincent vessel this week was the bad weather.
With respect to Grenada, Dowlath said Trinidad depended on Grenada for nutmeg and spices, sapodilla, sea moss, bananas and other fruits. With the complete devastation, it is almost certain the market would be affected. He said he was unable to contact officials from the Grenada agricultural sector to ascertain the full extent of the damage, but based on the local news reports from that island, the situation seemed grave and that would have a definite effect on the market. Dowlath said the situation was exacerbated since the north-eastern side of Trinidad, which includes Toco, Sans Souci, Grande Riviere and other areas that supplied crops to the Central Market, had also been affected by the hurricane. He noted they would be able to ascertain the full extent of the problem with imports today, after checking with the Macoya wholesale market.
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