KINGSTON – Ravaged by three days of heavy rainfall, farmers in the Rio Grande valley of Portland are appealing for assistance to resume their livelihood after losing hundreds of fully grown plants.
The affected farmers, who hail from the adjoining communities of Seaman’s Valley, Cornwall Barracks, and Moore Town, suffered losses to several hectares of banana plants, as torrential rainfall once again wreaked havoc on their livelihood for the third time in less than a year.
“We were just picking up the pieces and another disaster has struck yet again,” said Alfred Williamson a 72-year-old farmer of Cornwall barracks.
Williamson added, “I lost more than 1,500 fully grown banana trees in April last year. I suffered a much bigger loss in October 2016, just six months after, and now I have lost a significant number of similar fruit trees, which would be ready for harvesting in June and July. This is my livelihood that I have stuck to since age 15, following the death of my father. I am really in need of help this time around.”
The comments from the elderly farmer, who was adamant that he did not want his picture taken as he was afraid of scamming activities, comes against the background of a massive land slippage on Saturday morning at London district in the Rio Grande valley. Approximately 5,000 residents were impacted when huge boulders came tumbling down shortly after 3 am.
Since then, the roadway has been cleared by workmen from the National Works Agency, but according to Member of Parliament for Eastern Portland, Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, the plight of the farmers needed immediate attention, so that they could continue their livelihood in the varied communities, which are the breadbasket of the parish.
“Although this time around, farmers have not suffered any major damage, there are losses,” commented Bloomfield.
“I have spoken to the Rural Agriculture Development Authority to see what assistance can be provided to the affected farmers. They have suffered some kind of damage to crops, including bananas, and therefore, they require assistance,” he added.