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THESE FIELDS AND HILLS: Farmers replant after storms


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

THESE FIELDS AND HILLS: Farmers replant after storms

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Two farmers who operate in St Lucy suffered thousands of dollars in damage last year when two major systems dumped inches of water in the fields.

The farmers from the Spring Hall Land Lease Programme suffered the wrath of tropical storms Irma and Maria last August and September.

Those eventually developed into Category 5 hurricanes which devastated Dominica, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, causing billions of dollars in damage.

Foreman Radesh Indar, who oversees a six-acre plot, told These Fields And Hills he lost close to $20 000 worth of produce. He explained that he and other labourers tried to salvage what they could from waterlogged fields, but their efforts were in vain.

“We had melons, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and tomatoes planted on two and a half to three acres and we lost everything,” he lamented.

“We even tried to pick up the melons in the rain. We wiped them off and put them in the container, but the next day they were soft. That day we picked about $8 000 worth of melons and the water had covered the entire ground; it was so bad we even took videos of it.”

In spite of losing thousands of dollars worth of crops, fertiliser and seeds, Indar said he was grateful he and the other workers were able to replant the crops within the past weeks. He also said that it was hurtful to tend to crops for a period of time and see them destroyed within a matter of seconds. 

A spokesman for another plot, Martin Scantlebury, said although fields of cucumbers and melons were damaged, a half-acre of sweet potatoes was hit the hardest. All the potatoes in that field were rotten.

“It wasn’t only hard digging the potato, it was hard getting in the ground. The track was really muddy and the only thing that could have got through was a 4X4 [vehicle].”

Scantlebury could not quantify the amount of the losses, noting that the market price of sweet potatoes recently fluctuated from $2.50 to $1.50 to $2 per pound. He said that some days it was almost impossible
for workers to pull out the weed, adding that climate change was becoming an unwelcome reality for crop producers. He said that farmers usually planted crops according to months and weather patterns, but that was slowly changing.

“The way how things going right now, you can’t tell which month is best to plant what because of the weather. Before, you could have been sure, but now it’s getting to be unpredictable.” (SB)

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