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Pacific Storms Hit Banana-growing Sikh Community Hard

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Aman Singh, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh
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    Admin SPNer

    Jun 1, 2004
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    Sikh farmers in a small New South Wales town north of the coastal city of Coffs Harbour have felt the impact of the ferocious storms that have hit the state. In the small New South Wales town of Woolgoolga, north of Coffs Harbour, banana, sugar-cane and oyster farmers are inspecting what little is left of their produce.


    Torrential rain and dangerous winds swept the region over the weekend, leaving farms in ruins.

    Affectionately known as "Woopi" or "The Missing Piece of Paradise," Woolgoolga boasts the largest regional Sikh settlement in Australia.

    Half of the population is Sikh, and 90 per cent of the families own banana farms.

    Iqbal Singh Grewal is one of those farmers.

    He has owned his banana plantation for over three decades and has seen the area battered by wild weather before, but he says never like this.

    "We've been through a few storms before, but this is the worst one."

    Mr Grewal says as much as 70 per cent of his crop was damaged.

    "It will cost us a lot of money. But, we have to do it. There is no other alternative. Like, this is worth nothing now. We have to chop it down."

    Iqbal Singh Grewal says it will take the farmers at least two years and tens of thousands of dollars to recover.

    Anu Grewal works with his father at the small plantation, which has only two other workers.

    "I really didn't think it was going to be that bad. I heard there was a lot of rain coming, (but) I didn't think it would be this much damage, and, when I came on Sunday morning, normally along this hill line from the shed, you can see bananas, (but) you couldn't see bananas. I got really worried then. That's when it really kicked in that it must have been a real bad storm."

    Anu Grewal says the family's plantation is one of the few remaining in the area still growing bananas, due in part to strong competition from north Queensland.

    He says the weekend storm is a further blow to the local banana industry.

    "Yeah, it definitely hurts, seeing your bananas. You put this much effort into growing them, and then, in no time at all, it's all flattened and stuff. (It) definitely hurts, but, you know, what can you do?"
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