Farmers have declared a disaster at the Spring Hall Land Lease Project in St Lucy, as crops lie under water in a weekend of heavy rains, after barely surviving water shortages and extreme heat for months.
They have also issued a warning of an expensive season for shoppers this Christmas after massive losses that have wiped out several growers.
Vice president of the Spring Hall Farmers’ Association, Dujon Edwards, told Barbados TODAY that even though the rains have abated, many farmers are still unable to access their land, as their crops are still under water.
While the damage assessment is still ongoing, he estimated losses to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He revealed that a number of farmers have sustained total losses and have no way of bouncing back, save some intervention from Government.
Edwards said: “After visiting the farms on Sunday, we came across a lot of damage. Initially we thought it was a normal rain event but it quickly turned into a disaster.
“We grow a lot of vegetables and most of their stuff is under water. Farmers are now beginning to get into their fields because a number of them are still under water.
“Farmers lost in the hundreds of thousands, there were pumpkins literally floating away to the sea on Saturday. Some farmers had just paid to have their fields cultivated and placed irrigation lines and that has been all washed away.”
He further explained: “We are meeting today to try to chart a way forward because the farmers are going to need some serious assistance because these crops which were damaged in rains on Saturday, are the first set of crops that really made it through the drought period.
“We fought with them and get them to the stage of harvesting, only to have them washed away.
“So we are really hoping to get some sort of assistance from Government.”
With the Spring Hall Land Lease Project responsible for producing a significant percentage of the country’s vegetables, Dujon is warning Barbadians to expect high prices for these crops during the Christmas season due to shortages.
He said “We will not get to market this Christmas season. Most crops are three-month crops outside of the shorter crops such as cucumbers and beans, but even those would be difficult to cultivate in time for the season.
“So we expect prices to increase because there would be a serious shortage on the market.
“A lot of fields would be saturated for a while and it is going to be a little while before we can even consider replanting.
“This was a really bad year for us as vegetable farmers because it was from a totally dry period to being totally rained out.
“So we really need some help because this is now too much for us to handle on our own, too much.”
Four months ago, farmers on the project complained that they were unable to make ends meet, as their crops were barely able to survive on water rations of two days per week. This pressure was compounded by demands from the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) that farmers pay all outstanding bills or face eviction.