A medium-term solution has been found for the pesky recurring cow-itch problem which has continued to cause class disruptions at the Blackman and Gollop Primary School.
This morning Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod revealed that the owner of the adjacent offending plantation has agreed to large scale clearing of the field, which includes grading the field by four inches and burying the pods and seeds of the itchy plant into deep trenches.
The school will be closed on Monday for thorough industrial cleaning to ensure that any remnants of the spores are removed. Prescod, who along with acting Minister of Education Lucille Moe, spoke to reporters following a walkthrough of the school, explained that the cleanup will be conducted by the land owners tomorrow under the supervision of the National Conservation Commission (NCC).
“We certainly will not be able to remove the cowitch from the land, but we have come to the conclusion that we can mitigate the particles that are escaping from the pods and affecting the children. What we have finally agreed on is that we will scrape the surface of the entire land and the arrangement is that we will not go below four inches so that we could remove all of the seeds from the land. We are going to remove the plant in its entirety and place all of the material in those deep trenches, which will be covered over by material that would keep the seeds dormant for the longest possible time,” said Prescod, who revealed that there are other lands in the close proximity to the school, whose owners would also be required to carry out a similar exercise.
He said, “There are lands to the northern and western sides and we are hoping that we would be able to complete these efforts by Sunday evening.”
The minister acknowledged that eventually the spores will return and the process will have to be repeated at a later date. However, he pointed out that based on discussions with experts, this solution was the most environmentally-friendly and was likely to produce the most relief for the longest period.
“This is the approach that we agreed upon in relation to all of the facts that were before us. We will continue to apply this same approach to discussions. The option of burning was on the table but in my opinion if that was effective then the recent fire we had should have taken care of the problem. Fire officers agreed that was not the solution because the seeds are resilient and would quickly germinate. So the best thing we could do is put it to rest deep in the earth,” Prescod said.
In recent years close to the start of the crop, the issue of cow-itch rears its ugly head forcing the primary school in Staple Grove, Christ Church, to close its gates because of the presence of spores. Some of the $282 570 supplementary funds the House of Assembly voted this week for the National Conservation Commission (NCC) is to go towards ridding the school’s environs of the cow-itch vine, which causes severe itching.