Hurricane harvests ready-to-reap peppers in St. Thomas and St. Mary
About 70 per cent of the pepper plants established by farmers participating in the European Union's (EU) Economic Diversification Programme For Banana Producing Parishes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Agriculture and fishing manager for the international charity Food For the Poor, Selena Ledgister-Kellier, says the pepper plants and peppers were destroyed by the heavy winds and the flooding of the Morant River caused by the hurricane.
"Many farmers have lost their ready-to-harvest peppers," said Ledgister-Kellier. "The Morant River has cut off some of our farmers in Somerset and the situation makes it impossible for us to do a proper assessment at this time," added Ledgister-Kellier.
Food For The Poor is now conducting a preliminary assessment and has vowed to assist the small farmers in St Mary and St Thomas who are participants in the Economic Diversification Programme For Banana Producing Parishes.
According to the charity, once the audit is complete it will be assisting farmers to resuscitate their production.
The Economic Diversification Programme For Banana Producing Parishes seeks to provide alternative income-generating opportunities for small farmers who traditionally cultivated bananas.
Financed by the EU
It is financed by the EU through the European Union Banana Support Programme (EUBSP) and implemented by Food For The Poor.
"We hope that by Monday or as soon as the river recedes, we will be able to distribute seedlings, fertiliser and welfare to expedite the recovery effort," said Ledgister-Kellier
She said assistance will also be provided to farmers in Esher, St Mary, where bee colonies and pepper plants were "severely damaged".
In Esher, ready-to-harvest peppers were blown off the plants while some bee boxes were damaged by fallen trees and debris.
The Economic Diversification Programme For Banana Producing Parishes was launched in June and will run for 16 months.
So far, some 14,101 pounds of peppers have been reaped by farmers in St Mary and 13,508 pounds reaped by farmers in St Thomas.
The programme is providing a total of 40 small farmers in the traditional banana-producing areas of Somerset, St Thomas, and Esher, St Mary, with the materials, training and technical support necessary to engage in sustainable production of Scotch bonnet peppers, goats and bees/honey.