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Tomatoes, capsicum crops could be badly hit during Cyclone Debbie, local growers warn

Tomatoes, capsicum crops could be badly hit during Cyclone Debbie, local growers warn

THE price of tomatoes and capsicum could spike in winter months following Cyclone Debbie, if fruit and vegetable crops in the region are badly hit.

That’s according to Bowen Gumlu Growers Association Industry Development Officer Cherry Emeric, who told news.com.au the area is responsible for 95 per cent of the tomatoes and capsicums eaten in Australia in the winter months.

“If we can’t pick it’s a roll-on effect. We have a lot of backpackers, a lot of locals. It’s tourism, it’s our local community. It would be pretty catastrophic,” she said.

The slow-moving Category 4 is due to hit early Tuesday morning. Authorities have ordered the largest ever evacuation with 25,000 residents in low-lying areas of Mackay told to leave as soon as possible.

Horticulture contributes around $450 million annually to the Bowen economy and employs 3200 people. Local farms produce a large range of fruits and vegetables from corn to pumpkins, melons, mangoes, eggplant, chilli and macadamia nuts.

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“Roughly between 15 and 20 per cent of planting is in the ground. That crop will be picked at the end of May,” Ms Emeric said.

“If we get a lot of rain after this that’s going to provide a lot of problems.”

“It’s just this waiting game …. I know a lot of people are very, very anxious and they have taken this cyclone very seriously.”

Bowen also contributes another $278 million a year to the state economy through sugar cane, coffee, cereal, pasture and hay. The combined cane growing harvest between the three regions of Burdekin, Proserpine and Mackay is estimated to be around $850 million a year, the ABC reports.

Warnings over Cyclone Debbie come after previous hits to the region including Cyclone Ita in 2014 and Yasi in 2011

Following Yasi, banana prices rose to more than $15 a kilogram two months after the event.

Cyclone Larry in 2006 saw a banana shortage for nearly 12 months.

Online Source: The News

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