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Top End farmer recovers after disastrous year

Carmen Brown, Friday October 18, 2013 - 09:52 EDT
ABC image
Steven Rose checks his paw paw crop near Katherine - ABC
ABC image
The first storm destroyed a plant nursery on the property - ABC

This year has certainly been a difficult one for Top End fruit and honey producer Steven Rose.

He's been plagued by a series of natural disasters on his Edith Farms Road property, just north of Katherine, including a mini-tornado, flooding and fire.

Many of his fruit trees were damaged or destroyed during the bad weather, but Mr Rose says he is now starting to see signs of recovery.

"We have replanted our red paw paw, and are only just starting to see some new fruit on the trees," he said.

"We would normally pick between 50 to 60 kilograms per week, but we are only just back up to around 15 to 20 kilograms.

"There is a long way to go to get back to where were, it won't happen this year, it will probably be after Christmas before we are back to anything like that."

The intense weather hit the property in March, decimating many banana, avocado and mango trees.

A second storm caused further damage, including extensive erosion, after dumping more than 800 millimetres of rain in five days.

But the bad luck didn't stop there.

Mr Rose, who sells his produce through the Katherine market, says his honey production also dropped after a deliberately-lit fire destroyed nearby Eucalyptus trees in June.

"We have only just got honey back in the last couple of months," he said.

"The trees are starting to get some leaves on them, and it is moving into the flowering season again now.

"I am just hoping that we get some decent nectar production now."

While the damage has taken a heavy financial toll on his business, Mr Rose is determined to rebuild.

"It is going to take another six months before we are anywhere near where we were before any of these events happened," he said.

"And it has been a lot of hard work, luckily we have had some friends here to give us a hand.

"Without their help I don't know what we would have done."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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