Severe drought plaguing Hanover farmers
The severe drought now affecting some sections of the parish of Hanover is having a stranglehold on yam farmers in the upland areas, particularly in the areas south-west of the town of Lucea, the parish's capital.
According to Donald Campbell, the president of the Riverside Farmers Group, with the supply from the National Water Commission pipelines erratic, if the situation worsens, there may be little or none of the legendary Lucea yams when the traditional reaping time comes in August.
"Right now, people who have Negro yam and Lucea yam might have a problem because they won't be harvesting those till August," said Campbell. "So if the drought persists, in terms of yam, you will have a negative effect. Most of the yellow yam farmers that are about to reap now, if the rain picks up, it may not be so bad.
"It has affected persons farming cash crops, including me," continued Campbell. "You don't have a consistent flow of water in the pipes to maintain your crops. It also affects yams, cassava, and people who have ginger. I can't plant anything for the last two weeks due to the shortage of water."
WATER SOURCE STRESSED
Two weeks ago, Dr Richard Meggoe, the National Water Commission's regional water supply and distribution manager, announced during a meeting in Negril that there had been a significant reduction in rainfall in Hanover, which, he said, had caused meteorologists to characterise the parish as being in a "state of severe drought".
At the time, Dr Meggoe said that the blue hole in the Logwood community, which was the parish's main water source, was severely stressed. He said that although the Logwood Water Treatment System has a capacity of about five million gallons per day, inflows had fallen by 80 per cent, resulting in the output being only two million gallons daily.
Alva Frazer, a farmer from the Ginger Hill community, told The Gleaner that cultivation of new crops was in limbo for most farmers, particularly those who did not own motor vehicles.
"Man! Up to last night mi a talk bout it. It terrible! It affect me in every way, but because mi have a truck and mi go down to the spring, I collected couple hundred gallons of water with my truck and bring it up and water the vegetables. A dat save mi," said Frazer. "Up to yesterday, I brought in 50-odd gallons of river water to water them from the Haughton Tower tributary," Frazer said.
"It affect the other farmers badly because mi hear dem a complain. One of them a complain say him can't plant no yam and plantain because of the water," added Frazer.