The drought-like conditions and now the consistently heavy rainfall have been causing some farmers to come up a little short on certain crops.
That’s why it’s likely that the price of some local fruits and vegetables will increase.
Vice-president of the Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN), Erskine Forde, was among farmers at the Spring Hall Land Lease Project in St Lucy who gave that outlook yesterday.
“I believe there will be a shortage of most produce, sweet peppers, tomatoes and even carrots. Because the rain has been falling, the squash is holding too much water. We are also being impacted in other ways. For example, the blossoms are not setting, so when you think you have an acre of tomatoes planted, sometimes you only get ten or 15 pounds, but we are trying,” Forde said.
Michael Jairam said if conditions did not improve, farmers might have no choice but to hike their prices.
“For Christmas for sure, if the farmers don’t get the right weather to plant things, the price of vegetables will be high.”
He also said the two-hour water rationing arrangement currently in place was not the most ideal, and was another factor in their production which could impact prices.
“It makes no sense if you have 15 to 20 acres in ground, but can only get two hours of water. Two hours of water cannot wet 15 or 20 acres. The farmer will plant half or an acre in cucumber, squash or okras and when the crop is small, you must get them at least 25 minutes to half an hour, and as they grow and start bearing you have to increase the wetting,” Jairam explained.
Farmer and vendor Halcourt Bovell agreed that the recent heavy rainfall compounded the challenges many in the agricultural sector were experiencing.
“I don’t know how much sorrel we are going to have this year because I planted sorrel earlier but because of the drought conditions, it was quite hot and my sorrel did not survive.
“In addition, the beans and christophine are still short so we will have to depend on the overseas market,” Bovell said. “The beans, carrots and sweet potatoes were short since February or March so you can say they are off the market because you are just not seeing them.
“The weather also impacted the yams because we had yams planted all across the place, more than ever, but the yield isn’t there yet. I’ve been expecting to eat yam by the end of August, early September, but we are still waiting,” he added.
Over the past two weeks, the Barbados Meteorological Services has issued several flash flood watches and warnings, with many rural and urban communities being flooded.
Arif Bacchus highlighted some of the waterlogged fields and the pumpkins that cracked under the pressure of the water.
Radesh Indar was busy trying to salvage some of his crops that were damaged and plant fresh seeds he is hopeful will bear fruit.
“The melons out there are kinda sleepy because there was too much water. At one time, you could almost ride a jet ski in the ground, so I’m now trying to run some fertiliser on them to see if they would pick back up.”
Despite the challenges, he said he was doing his best to continue farming. “Farming is challenging and you can’t change the weather, so as it comes you have to work with it.”