Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Bleak Christmas for Clarendon farmers

Published:Wednesday | October 28, 2020 | 12:07 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

The heavy rains that pummelled the island for the past two weeks have dealt a cruel blow to farmers in Clarendon.

For farmers in Bog Hole in the north, it was another stark reminder of how much of a gamble they take every time they plant.

Larkland Douglas, who spoke on behalf of a group of 15 farmers who were hardest hit in the community, said that a few cultivators had been spared disaster.

Among the crops which have gone down the drain are dasheen, cabbage, pak choi, and lettuce. Douglas said that he has lost 5,000 to 6,000 head of pak choi ready for reaping, with younger suckers also planted.

“We lose a whole lot of money, especially from the lettuce which had a price on it,” he told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

Douglas, who is used to perennial losses, struck a note of resignation.

“You win sometimes and sometimes you lose. If there is no help, you just have to find a way to move on and start again,” he added.

Other farmers shared that they are growing increasingly despondent as a bleak Christmas looms.

While some cultivators are hopeful of clearing their fields for replanting as early as next week, others whose farms were submerged under water as high as 10 feet revealed that they would have to delay a rebound until January 2021.

“Plenty of us not gonna have any crops for Christmas,” Douglas said.

Wayne Reid, manager of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in Clarendon, said that extension officers are now in the process of collating information and crunching the numbers.

“We have great amount of damage in the Kellits ... Mason River side, as well as Ebony Park,” Reid said, adding that it was too early to settle on a preliminary estimate.

RADA, Reid said, would be seeking to give downtrodden farmers assistance with seeds, fertiliser, and pesticides, among other support.

Reid acknowledged that the recent scouring of Jamaica by Hurricane Zeta – a tropical storm on the weekend –added to the woe unleashed by heavy rains earlier in the year.

“They were trying to bounce back for the Christmas season, so it will be a big impact,” he said.