With northern farmers reeling from crop losses from last weekend’s torrential rains, their top representative has suggested that housing developments were to blame for most of the flooding in the area of the Spring Hall Land Lease Project.
As president of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul told Barbados TODAY of his relief to see the rains after months of drought, the flash floods in St Lucy should serve as a wake-up call to authorities of the need to ensure proper drainage across the island.
“We really need to address the issue of drainage in respect of some areas because we have made the point before that first of all we need not disturb natural drainage patterns which can cause issues.”
Paul called for proper building codes in residential areas around the farming communities.
He said: “When we see flooding in a farming area where hitherto there was no flooding it usually means that some development happened in that area where enough provision has not been made for rainwater runoff.
“We have to look at the issue of where developments are being approved, because depending on where a development is being approved in Barbados people do not understand that that development is going to have consequences for settlements that are traditionally located next to them and also agricultural operations.
“That is the reason why I do not at all disagree with the fact that Town and Country Planning takes its time in terms of trying to ensure that when it gives an approval for development that development has at least gone through great scrutiny including looking at having some type of environmental impact assessment as to what impact it will have on adjoining areas.”
Last Saturday’s flash floods, which rendered a number of roads impassable for a few hours, destroyed some roadways and flooded homes. The rains also wreaked havoc on a number of farms in the northernmost parish, where much of the farming is in vegetable growing.
While some farmers have already warned of a knock-on effect of higher prices likely from an expected shortage of some crops, Paul gave the assurance that items should be in abundance for the Christmas season.
The BAS chief told Barbados TODAY: “Certainly, in those areas (St Lucy), crops such as tomatoes we are watching to see what is going to happen because St Lucy is a heavy producer of vegetables.
“We are going to look and visit to see what impact the rains would have had.
“Some areas would be different to others because some places have extremely good drainage so you would not have had that amount of water settlement.
“The other thing, too, we have to watch very carefully [in addition to] drainage, is the loss of soil cover.
“All of those things are very important that we need to address. But going into Christmas farmers usually gear up for Christmas in terms of crops and vegetables, so we should see ample supplies of crops and vegetables for householders around Christmas time.”
The BAS head said he was yet to hear from any members who were affected by the flooding, but said he was aware that some farmers had also suffered damage to their irrigation equipment.