A decade of crop loss from Hur­ri­cane Matthew in Haiti

Jamaica Gleaner - - IMF TRACKER -

The lobby of the casino at the un­fin­ished Baha Mar re­sort in The Ba­hamas is shown in this 2015 photo. HAITIAN AND in­ter­na­tional agri­cul­tural of­fi­cials say it could be a decade or more be­fore the south­west­ern penin­sula re­cov­ers eco­nom­i­cally from Hur­ri­cane Matthew, which struck hard at the rugged re­gion of more than one mil­lion peo­ple that is al­most com­pletely de­pen­dent on farm­ing and fish­ing.

The Civil Pro­tec­tion agency said Fri­day that the death toll from Hur­ri­cane Matthew, which made land­fall on Oc­to­ber 4, had risen to 546, though it was likely to climb higher as re­ports con­tin­ued to trickle in from re­mote ar­eas. Like­wise, the sta­tis­tics about eco­nomic losses are still ap­prox­i­mate, but ap­pear to be cat­a­strophic.

In the Grand-Anse re­gion, nearly 100 per cent of crops and 50 per cent of live­stock were de­stroyed, ac­cord­ing to the World Food Pro­gramme. On the out­skirts of Les Cayes, where Jean-Bap­tiste lives, more than 90 per cent of crops were lost and the fish­ing in­dus­try was “paral­ysed” as ma­te­rial and equip­ment washed away, the or­gan­i­sa­tion said.

Re­plant­ing veg­etable crops can be done rel­a­tively quickly and rice fields be­gin to re­cover as flood­wa­ters re­cede, but the loss of ma­ture fruit trees that fam­i­lies nur­tured for a gen­er­a­tion is a stag­ger­ing blow.

“It will take at least 10 years for na­ture to do what it needs to do to grow the trees back,” said Elan­cie Moise, an agron­o­mist and se­nior agri­cul­ture min­istry of­fi­cial in the south.

Grape­fruit, ba­nana and av­o­cado trees were wiped out along with im­por­tant root crops such as yams, which were in­un­dated with wa­ter or dam­aged by the whip­ping wind, Moise said. Ve­tiver, a grass that is used to pro­duce fra­grances and is an im­por­tant ex­port for Haiti, ap­pears to have sus­tained some In this Oc­to­ber 12, 2016 photo, Maniki Cadet, 67, works in a field re­mov­ing dead ba­nana trees and shoring up the foun­da­tions of oth­ers, near Les Cayes, Haiti, af­ter Hur­ri­cane Matthew. There are wide­spread re­ports of ris­ing prices in the out­door mar­kets that line the re­gion’s ru­ral roads and of peo­ple strug­gling to find food.

root dam­age but may be one of the few crops to make it, he added.

RIS­ING PRICES

There are wide­spread re­ports of ris­ing prices in the out­door mar­kets that line the re­gion’s ru­ral roads and of peo­ple strug­gling to find food. “Al­ready there are some peo­ple, if you ask them what they ate for din­ner last night, they won’t be able to an­swer you,” Moise said.

This is a re­gion that only re­cently be­gan re­cov­er­ing from a drought that had de­creased crop pro­duc­tion by half.

Now, farm­ers are wad­ing through the an­kle-deep wa­ter in their rice fields des­per­ately search­ing for stalks that may have sur­vived and can still be sold. Many have noth­ing to sal­vage. Trees such as bread­fruit and co­conut palms can’t even be sold for char­coal be­cause the wood isn’t suit­able. Peo­ple are also try­ing to save what

fruit they can, but most wasn’t yet ripe.

“It took a long time for these trees to get strong and now all my cof­fee has been lost. Our plan­tains and veg­eta­bles, ev­ery­thing is gone,” said Rico Lifete, who works a small plot in the craggy moun­tains out­side the coastal city of Jeremie and man­aged to save his dozen chick­ens by keep­ing them in­side his stone-and-stucco shack with his fam­ily.

Haiti as a whole is largely de­for­ested, with an es­ti­mated 2 per cent of its orig­i­nal for­est cover left be­cause of decades of mis­use of the land and the cut­ting of trees to make char­coal for cook­ing.

But this western penin­sula that juts out along the Caribbean Sea had been com­par­a­tively lush. It in­cludes the cloud-shrouded moun­tains of Pic Ma­caya Na­tional Park, which was de­clared a

AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.