January 14, 2014
Floods had heavy impact on agriculture – Caesar

The Christmas disaster that took place during the last week of last year, has had a huge impact on the agricultural sector’s ability to export and to gain foreign exchange.{{more}}

Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said during a press conference yesterday at the Ministry’s conference room, that farmers have, and will continue to feel the fallout of the heavy rains and flooding that claimed lives, homes and livestock.

He said that as the assessment is taking place, it is being revealed where the tragedy is affecting production and productivity.

The minister informed the media that an aerial spraying cycle that was scheduled to commence today would not be possible, because of the damage to the bridge at Caratal in Georgetown.

“There is a bit of fear, and calculations are still being done as to whether or not that bridge could take the load of the 20-foot container across to the hangar for the chemical to be loaded to the spray plane.

“We have to address this matter urgently, because we know what happens with this increase in humidity and rainfall because we usually have flare-ups around this time…. We are trying to see if it can begin later on this week, and it’s something that we are working on. We are working with BRAGSA (the Roads, Bridges and General Services Authority) to see how we can best address this matter,” Caesar said.

Caesar also announced that information reaching him from Vincy Fresh, the marketing agent for local bananas, is that only four palettes of bananas were brought for shipping to the United Kingdom on Sunday, and this was because some farmers were unable to access their banana fields.

“The reasons being because we had rains on the weekend; many of the streams, although they were cleared, they became impassable and farmers decided to wait until next week’s shipment.

“So, if someone had gone in to make an assessment in an area, they may have seen or reported that the bananas are intact in that area, but because they had to cross a river and the bridge had been damaged we are seeing the multiplying impact already on our export. And I am certain if it happened for bananas, it is only obvious that it will happen for plantains and all other crops…” Caesar said.

Caesar also announced that the poultry industry also had taken a hit during the storm.

“I was also advised by the chief that because of the lightning on the night of the 24th and the interruptions in electricity, that we would have lost the entire hatch at Dumbarton and therefore we are looking at some 6,000 less chicks being paced on the market for sale and this is going to have an impact on the persons who produce….

“We are still working out the short-term means of addressing it, because we are looking at having (broiler) chicks produced probably at the end of February, but we will have to come up with an interim measure, otherwise we will have a scarcity of locally produced bird on the market and what we don’t want to do is to be forced to import whole chickens to service the local market.”

Caesar said that the issues that he had raised would be addressed in further detail during the budgetary debates later this month.

He called on the farmers to be steadfast and patient during the rebuilding efforts, as he assured them that the Government and technical staff in the ministry would do “whatever it takes” to ensure that farmers are being addressed.

“… Let us try as much as possible to put the disaster behind us and let us look forward, seeking hope, and doing it very prayerfully,” Caesar said.(JJ)