Hurt by drought

Now Glen­goffe farm­ers worry about storms

The Star (Jamaica) - - Front Page - RUDDY MATHISON STAR Writer

Anum­ber of small farm­ers in Glen­goffe, St Cather­ine, who have ex­pe­ri­enced losses amount­ing to hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars due to the ef­fects of the pre­vail­ing drought con­di­tions, are now faced with the pos­si­bil­ity of other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters that could fur­ther im­pact their liveli­hoods.

Fore­cast­ers are pre­dict­ing an ac­tive hur­ri­cane sea­son this year, and some farm­ers in this ru­ral St Cather­ine farm­ing com­mu­nity are fear­ful that their farms could be fur­ther wiped out if im­pacted by heavy and con­tin­u­ous rain­fall, as­so­ci­ated with any emerg­ing weather sys­tems or hur­ri­canes.

Leroy Mor­ri­son, a small farmer, said he has rea­sons to be con­cerned about the pre­dic­tions for an above-av­er­age hur­ri­cane sea­son.

“I have other crops like co­conuts and cane and I will lose them if the breeze come. I am not too wor­ried about the land­slide that could de­stroy the rest of the veg­eta­bles, be­cause I am plant­ing pineap­ple and straw to stop the soil from mov­ing, but even with this I know I will lose some of the veg­etable crops if we get heavy rains,” Mor­ri­son said.

The farmer said that he has hardly re­bounded from the drought that caused him some losses.

“I was not do­ing too badly, be­cause I was get­ting wa­ter from the pipe to wa­ter the plants, but we start to face wa­ter cri­sis and I had to trans­fer some of the plants fur­ther down the hill, near a lit­tle stream where I could get some wa­ter,” Mor­ri­son said.

“Be­fore this hap­pen, I lost more than 50lbs of cauliflowe­r and about the same amount of broc­coli.”

Mor­ri­son said the area ex­pe­ri­enced a lit­tle rain­fall a cou­ple weeks ago, af­ter which the sun came out in all its glory and scorched a patch of the cauliflowe­r and broc­coli be­fore he could reap them.

“I am reg­is­tered with RADA (Ru­ral Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Author­ity), but I can hardly get any help from them. About six weeks ago I got half a bag of fer­tiliser, and that’s all. I asked them for some or­ange suck­ers so that I can go into or­ange farm­ing, and un­til now I don’t hear a word from them,” he dis­closed.

Bertham Reid, another farmer, es­ti­mated his losses to be in the re­gion of $150,000 as a re­sult of drought. “It has burned down most of my veg­eta­bles, mainly the sweet pep­pers and toma­toes, there is no way I can make up for this loss.”

Reid, who is also a mem­ber of RADA, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion gave him a half a bag of fer­tiliser some weeks ago to help with his farm. He said he has con­cerns about the hur­ri­cane sea­son be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine how ac­tive it will be be­cause of cli­mate change.

Head­man Gayle, another small farmer who spe­cialises in the cul­ti­va­tion of gin­ger, along with yel­low yam and sugar cane, said he has lost thou­sands of dol­lars worth of pro­duce due to the drought. And like his fel­low farm­ers, he is wor­ried that an ac­tive hur­ri­cane sea­son could spell dis­as­ter for him.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Leroy Mor­ri­son shows cauliflowe­r that has been scorched by the heat from the sun. Leroy Mor­ri­son

The stream that Leroy Mor­ri­son de­pends on for wa­ter for his farm.

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