Farm­ers cry out for mon­key hun­ters

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Agriculture - By SHERIA BRATHWAITE

“WHERE HAVE ALL the bounty hun­ters gone?”

That is the ques­tion on the lips of some St Thomas farm­ers who said they are try­ing their ut­most to win the war against mon­keys.

They have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing crop theft and dam­age by the pri­mates for years in an ap­par­ent never-end­ing saga.

“I am los­ing the bat­tle against the mon­keys,” Hazel Wal­ters, a vegetable farmer in Vault Road, Welch­man Hall, told These Fields And Hills.

“No mat­ter how I have tried, they con­tinue to raid my farm.”

In 2016, Wal­ters, who is known for sup­ply­ing an abun­dance of sor­rel around Christ­mas in the Bar­ba­dos As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­tail­ers,

Ven­dors and En­trepreneurs tem­po­rary mar­ket in Cheap­side, The City, lost an en­tire field of sor­rel to the pests. In 2017, he barely man­aged to get any of the pro­duce out to mar­ket, but last year, he was not so lucky. Wal­ters said he be­came so dis­cour­aged that at times, he did not feel like plant­ing any­more.

Watched move­ments

“If they keep on reap­ing my crops be­fore me, it doesn’t make any sense for me to keep on plant­ing,” he said. “They de­stroyed my sor­rel and I didn’t get none at all. Now they go­ing for my green peas.”

Rudy Ham­blin, who grows veg­eta­bles and fruits in the same district, said the an­i­mals were no longer afraid of hu­mans and would sit in the field and com­fort­ably eat a farmer’s pro­duce.

Both farm­ers said they had seen troops of mon­keys, com­prised of 14 or more. They usu­ally sat in nearby trees and watched the move­ments of the farm­ers. Af­ter a while, they de­vel­oped a rou­tine based on what they ob­served.

The farm­ers said they have tried us­ing chicken ma­nure and news­pa­per clip­pings to pre­vent the crea­tures from steal­ing their crops, and the ruse worked to some de­gree.

Ham­blin said he erected wooden poles be­tween gar­den beds and hung news­pa­per clip­pings on a line.

Grow ex­tra crops

Based on the fre­quency of sight­ings, the farm­ers ques­tioned whether the bounty sys­tem was still in play.

Last year, mem­bers of the Bar­ba­dos Ri­fle and Pis­tol Fed­er­a­tion, who hunt mon­keys, were call­ing for an in­crease in the $15 fee for killing the an­i­mals. The farm­ers agreed with their con­cern, say­ing their con­tri­bu­tion was greatly needed.

They asked that hun­ters make them­selves more avail­able to farm­ers.

Farm­ers in Bryan’s Road, who grow ba­nanas and veg­eta­bles, also com­plained about the pests. One sug­gested that each farmer grow ex­tra crops, es­pe­cially those mon­keys loved such as fruit and sweet pota­toes, to min­imise the amount of dam­age in ev­ery gar­den.

An­other farmer, Ty­rone Clarke, said he had to tighten se­cu­rity mea­sures and in­vest in big dogs to scare away the crea­tures. He also agreed that an in­creased pres­ence by hun­ters would help al­le­vi­ate

the prob­lem.

(Pic­tures by Len­nox Devon­ish.)

TY­RONE CLARKE’S gar­den pump­kin was bit­ten by mon­keys.

RUDY HAM­BLIN said mon­keys hated pun­gent odours and ad­vised other farm­ers to put ma­nure around the perime­ters of their gar­dens and be­tween the beds. In­set, Hazel Wal­ters show­ing the tracks of the pri­mates in a gar­den bed.

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