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Hurricane Sandy’s effects on coffee crops

hurricane sandy mapIn Brooklyn, we have felt the effects of Hurricane Sandy first hand and our hearts go out to all who have been touched by this devastating storm. Not only did it wreak havoc in the northeast but it has also effected some of the worlds biggest coffee producing countries.

Reuters, Havnnna- Hurricane Sandy decimated the  Cuban coffee crop and delivered a major setback to renovation of  old plantations when it ripped through the eastern part of the  country late last week, according to scattered media reports.
The storm left between 20 percent and 30 percent of the crop  on the ground, damaged processing centers and roads and felled  thousands of trees upon plantations as it pummeled the Sierra  Maestra Mountains, where 92 percent of the crop is grown.

The coffee harvest runs from September through January, but  peaks in October and November.
Coffee production was already expected to weigh in at some  5,300 tonnes of semiprocessed beans, compared with 7,100 tonnes  in the previous season and an initial plan of 8,500 tonnes.

A Reuters report now estimates output will be below 4,000 tonnes, the  lowest in more than a century. The official Granma newspaper reported on Monday that  Guantanamo province, the country’s second producer after  Santiago de Cuba, “lost 174,475 cans of beans” and “47  processing centers were damaged”.

Cuba often reports coffee output in cans, with 525 cans  equal to a tonne. Still-to-be-quantified losses were also reported in the  eastern provinces of Granma and Holguin, the country’s third and  fourth producers. The devastation was far worse in Santiago, which took the  brunt of the storm and where losses were still being tallied.

Songo-La Maya is an agricultural municipality whose main crop is coffee and the initial figures for coffee ouput  indicate a loss of  84,000 cans, while 4,500 hectares of plantations and another 650  in development are damaged due to the trees that fell on them as reported in the the province’s newspaper, Sierra Maestra, on Sunday. There are eight coffee-producing municipalities in Santiago  de Cuba.

The National Information Agency, reporting from the Cruce de  los Banos municipality on Saturday, said: “Initial estimates by  municipal authorities indicate more than 300 hectares of coffee  plantations damaged by falling trees and dozens of tonnes of  mature beans felled and washed away.”
How much of the remaining and now quickly ripening coffee  beans could be picked and processed, given the destruction Sandy  left behind, was unclear.