Friday, December 3

Landing mission to save banana trees in areas restricted by the La Palma volcano

At 2.30 pm this Thursday, one of the LCM-1E type boats departed from the port of Tazacorte with the mission of transferring farmers to irrigate their crops, especially banana trees, to areas restricted by the La Palma volcano. “Who would tell me that 51 years later, I would have to get on a barge of these,” said the farmer José Camacho to the media who accompanied the six selected field professionals, before disembarking on the beach of Puerto Naos.

Camacho recalled in the port, where he arrived at 1:00 p.m., that when he did the military service in the Marine Infantry in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1970 “there were these bicharracos, (referring to the boats), who moved on top of the water like paper… but these are much more modern ”.

The farmer, evacuated from his home in Puerto Naos, explained that he has not watered the farm for more than two weeks. “They are at the limit,” he adds. Everyone knows that this year they will not have a harvest and their hope is to save that of next year, to avoid having to re-plant, which would mean not picking bananas in the area again until at least 2023.

Camacho was given the 5:30 p.m. shift and will be able to water until 9:00 p.m. “We have to wait a long time, depending on how long the others take,” he explains, but considers the initiative to be positive because the journey is shorter than by road.

The Cabildo asked the Ministry of Defense for support to reduce the distance that farmers had to take to access their crops: by sea it takes about 25 minutes from the dock; by road, starting from the same point, the route exceeds an hour and a half without counting traffic jams.

The Navy details that late at night the requests made by the communities of regents are closed and, based on these, trips are planned. In total there are three boats, which were transported to La Palma last Wednesday on the amphibious ship Castile from the Rota Naval Base on November 8. Each boat has the capacity to transport 80 people and the ship also has a helicopter and a medical team as support.

Airam Gutiérrez was another of the selected farmers. He has already gone to restricted areas by land, but considers that “it is too much” and, in addition, it represents a significant cost of fuel. “For specific things it can be useful, but it is impossible to do it continuously.”

For this reason, he believes that the initiative of the maritime route “can be quite good”, but in his opinion they still need to be better organized. This Thursday, after disembarking in Puerto Naos, he has been able to access his farms, of approximately one hectare, in Las Hoyas and Charco Verde, areas that can be accessed by authorized transport.

“They are fatal,” Gutiérrez acknowledged during the journey, referring to his farms. Despite this, he is hoping to collect some fruit in the next harvest, no matter how small, and avoid having to re-plant. After disembarking the farmers on the beach of Puerto Naos, the boat picked up another nine professionals from the field who had left this Thursday morning to take them back to Tazacorte.

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