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Cyclone Ita destroys banana plantations

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Cyclone Ita has destroyed a banana plantation in northern Queensland, which an indigenous community relies on to sustain the local economy.

The trees on the 80 hectare property in Hope Vale, north of Cooktown were toppled on Friday night, with a damage bill up to $1 million, Nine News reports.

Hope Vale mayor Greg McLean said the orchard was expected to produce 100,000 cartons of Cavendish bananas  this year and had employed 30 to 40 workers in the remote community that struggled with unemployment. Despite the damage caused by Ita, none of the workers will be laid off, as they will all be needed to remove toppled trees and begin replanting.

The banana plantation is not the only that was affected. South of Cooktown, farmers at Lakeland rushed on Friday to pick and pack as much fruit as possible. They hoped to get 250 tonnes of bananas and another 1,500 banana bunches into storage.

Owner Peter Inderbitzin said almost 30 percent of his banana trees had been knocked down, theCourier Mail reports. “We didn’t quite reach our target for getting fruit packed away before it hit, but we’ve been lucky that most of what we missed is salvageable,” he said.

Inderbitzin said he hoped to get a tractor through to the property on Monday (14 April) to commence the clean up and “just to get picking started again.”

Image: 4hdwallpapers.com

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