$9m in crops lost to storm Tomas
Barbados’ agricultural sector suffered losses totalling $9 million because of Tropical Storm Tomas.
Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick gave the estimate yesterday when he addressed the annual general meeting of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS).
He told the meeting at Grand Barbados Beach Resort that more than 230 farmers had suffered crop and livestock losses, as well as property damage.
Earlier, first BAS vice-president Wendell Clarke said the poultry industry had been hit hard, losing “well over” 100 000 birds.
In addition, nearly 100 000 square feet of chicken pens had been damaged.
Clarke estimated that the damage caused by Tomas could set some farmers back six months.
A week ago, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said Barbados would have to spend $37 million just to repair houses damaged by Tomas.
The tropical storm damaged at least 1 000 houses and, according to Stuart, 200 would have to be replaced.
Farmers say crops were damaged or destroyed and many fruit trees uprooted.
“I fully sympathise with your plight at this time and wish to assure you that every effort will be made to assist to the extent that we can, given the current weak economic environment,” Estwick told BAS members.
He said the year had been a challenging one for agriculture, with troubles including floods that followed “periods of severe drought”.
“I recognise that it will take some time for the sector to fully recover,” he told the meeting.
He informed farmers that they could apply to the Disaster Rehabilitation Fund, under the auspices of the Agricultural Development Fund, for assistance to “restore production in the shortest possible time”.
Despite the recent “setback”, Estwick said he saw the agricultural sector as “a significant contributor to the national economy and as a viable means through which persons can sustain themselves through these challenging economic times”. (TY)