Jamaica's largest banana company said Wednesday it will halt exports for up to six months and lay off packers and planters after Hurricane Dean razed entire plantations.
"There are no bananas to harvest and no bananas to pack," said Marshall Hall, chairman of Jamaica Producers Group, which accounts for some 80 percent of the island's banana exports.
Hall said about 150 workers will soon be out of a job, with more to follow.
Government officials and private banana companies said they are tallying damages and will soon announce specific amounts of aid to farmers, who had already been struggling under big European subsidy cuts when Dean barreled past the island Aug. 19.
"From what we understand, about 95 percent of the banana (crop) has been damaged," said Victor Cummings, minister of state in Jamaica's Agriculture Ministry.
Jamaica plans to distribute roughly 50,000 bags of fertilizer as part of a US$3.2 million (euro2.3 million) effort to help its vital agriculture industry recover from Dean.