Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Papaya Industry after Hurricane Dean

Excerpts from Belize's Channel 5 newscast of their interview with Santiago Victorin, General Manager of Brooks Tropicals' subsidiary Belize Fruit Packers

Interviewer: "I have travelled to the papaya processing facility, belonging to Belize Fruit Packers, just outside Corozal Town. The buildings may have taken a hit, but that damage was nothing compared to the punch landed by Dean on the industry as a whole."

Mr. Victorin: “We didn’t have any major damages, just some roof damage."

Interviewer: “In terms of the company itself, the employees, the nature of your work, packaging, how has that been affected by this Hurricane Dean?”

Mr. Victorin "I’m guessing we'll be four to five months out of production. We work hand in hand with Fruta Bomba (the Brooks Tropicals subsidiary that manages the papaya fields). I know the papaya fields had extensive damage. Employees of Belize Fruit Packers will assist Fruta Bomba with the planting and cultivation of new fruit trees. We’ll be helping out Fruta Bomba to recover as soon as possible so that we can come back again and continue with our work.”

Interviewer: “I’m standing in a papaya field in Calcutta Village, Corozal. The destruction to this field was almost one hundred percent, leaving only these trees behind me standing. The losses are said to be in the millions of dollars to the industry and it will take several more months before new trees begin to blossom.The company’s papaya’s are harvested on twelve hundred acres of land, mostly in the Corozal District. Fruta Bomba is by far the largest grower in the country."

Broadcaster:”Assessment of damage to the sugar industry is not yet complete, while sources in Blue Creek report that while there was some toppling of trees in the Mennonite Community, the vital rice industry was not affected by the hurricane."