With water scarcity and intense heat already taking a toll on agriculture, one farmer at the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) is reporting that he has lost close to 250 pounds of tomatoes to thieves.
As if this was not bad enough, Chris Payne tells Barbados TODAY that the tomatoes were sprayed just yesterday with three pesticides, which could make consumers ill, if the fruits are ingested at this stage.
Payne explained that he left his Fairy Valley, Christ Church farm at around 6 p.m. yesterday and his trees were laden with tomatoes but when he returned this morning, he found rows of plants on his one-acre plot trampled and the fruits missing.
“Yesterday evening I leave up in here about 6:30 p.m. and I had multiple tomatoes on my trees. I sprayed them with pesticides and insecticides which would take about three days to come out of them. I came back in my ground this morning and could see that a substantial amount of my tomatoes was gone from halfway up in the ground to the top of the ground and that is when I called the police.
“This is not right and I am also concerned for the persons who are going to get these tomatoes because the chemical in them is going to affect them,” he said, revealing that he used the pesticide Cure, a fungicide Serenade, as well as Folia 20/20 in the treatment.
He explained that Cure would take at least three days before the chemical dissipates and the fruit is again safe to eat. The farmer said that he suspected that the thief or thieves used a vehicle because it would be very difficult to carry away that much produce on foot.
Currently, tomatoes fetch a price of about $3.50 per pound at most supermarkets, which means that the farmer would lose just over a thousand dollars in produce. He told Barbados TODAY that he only started to work the lands in March this year and this is the first time that thieves have struck his farm.
“That is a big loss for a small man like me because that is money that I could have taken and put back in the land or that I could have turned around and pay a bill at home. It feels as if every time I try to do something positive, somebody just trying to force me down or box bread out of my mouth. It takes a lot to grow tomatoes in these types of conditions, with the sun so hot, only for somebody to come and take all that hard work,” he lamented.
Apart from the loss suffered by the stolen crops, Payne said he also will lose money as a result of the damage to his field.
“You could see where I have the squash planted, the persons just rake through the vines with their foot, which now means that I have to now go and pick these. Then you have the damage to the tomato plants because the persons just snatch at whatever they could get their hands on, it didn’t matter to them, whether they were ready or not, they just snatch in a hurry and damaged the plants. So this is more work for me to plant over now,” said Payne, who urged persons to only buy products from reputable sellers.