17 March, 2023
Grant helps farmer grow again
TWO years after a cyclone wiped out the entire banana crop on an Innisfail plantation, the farm is back in full production with the help of financial assistance from the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority.
Tropical Cyclone Niran caused flash flooding and widespread damage when it hit the region in January-February 2021, but banana grower Sebastian Di Salvo has now been able to recover thanks to the help he received from QRIDA.
“When the damaging winds hit us, it was the worst predicament we could have been in,” he said.
“I had 7-8 staff, and I think it took us about 4-5 weeks to clean up 160 acres of bananas.”
Soon after the disaster, his business, Tropic Di Salvo, received a $75,000 Extraordinary Disaster Assistance Grant from QRIDA.
As he was an eligible impacted primary producer, he made an initial application of $25,000 for the grant.
“We needed the funds to help cover the costs of wages to assist in the clean-up,” he said.
“In our application we provided photos to show the significant damage to the banana plantation.”
After receiving $25,000, Sebastian applied for the remaining $50,000 of the grant.
“This helped with further contractor clean up costs, wages and materials,” he said.
Sebastian also applied for a $250,000 Disaster Assistance Loan to help with further crop reestablishment costs.
“I think it’s very important that people who are affected get as much financial assistance as they can,” he said.
“We are primary producers. We are at the mercy of the weather, and QRIDA is there to help us for that reason… it’s a big help.”
The farm is busier than ever at the moment, packing its latest fruit to send to market.
“At the moment we’ve been busy bringing bananas into the shed, packing them and getting them to market,” Sebastian said.
“We’re back on track and it’s also been good to see favourable growing conditions recently.”
With cyclones still likely to hit the region this disaster season, Sebastian is urging other primary producers to remain alert.
“You don’t want to see anyone suffer 100 per cent losses, it’s really heartbreaking, so I think we all feel for each other,” he said.
“Following a disaster, get in touch with QRIDA about what financial assistance might be available. My Regional Area Manager for the Far North, Sam Spina, helped me and I can’t fault him. He does whatever he can for us at all times.”
To find out more about QRIDA’s disaster assistance, visit QRIDA Disaster Recovery.
QRIDA administers financial assistance to disaster affected primary producers, businesses and non-profit organisations under the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).