Fortuño to assess crop damage today

Written by  //  August 23, 2011  //  Agriculture  //  No comments

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An affected plantain farm in Maunabo.

Two days after Tropical Storm Irene pounded Puerto Rico with non-stop rains and hurricane-force winds, Gov. Luis Fortuño will go on a road trip today to assess local crop damage, which, by the looks of what was left behind, could be significant.

The fierce weather system, which is now trekking across the Atlantic toward the U.S. mainland, entered through the island’s southeastern flank, affecting several plantain-producing towns, including Maunabo and Yabucoa.

For the most part, it is expected that affected farmers who paid for insurance policies through he Agriculture Department’s Farm Insurance Corporation will be eligible for financial help, Agriculture Secretary Javier Rivera Aquino said Monday.

That is so because while passing over the island, Irene strengthened into a Category I hurricane. However, eligibility comes with a caveat: farmers must report damages within 48 hours after assessing them, he said.

Farmers — who have until the end of the week to submit their claims — must also keep the affected areas intact for a period of at least 60 days, so they can be inspected.

“These instructions must be followed exactly, unless FIC staff has inspected the site and have given their consent for the crops to be harvested,” said Rivera Aquino. “It is each farmer’s responsibility not to touch any insured production that has not been harvested or inspected and cooperate with the FIC in the claim investigation process.”

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