Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Peter Thompson, says it is important for farmers to adapt to the changing weather patterns and plan accordingly.
“As it relates to the hurricane season, we would expect some amount of rainfall, so we always encourage them to clear their drains, protect drains where necessary in the fields, and also to do raised beds,” Mr. Thompson said, during a recent interview on the JIS television programme, ‘Get the facts’.
Raised beds facilitate the free flow of water, so that there is no excess concentration of water in the fields.
“We have been teaching them (farmers) mitigation strategies on how to cope in the event that we have excess water,” Mr. Thompson said.
The official hurricane season began on June 1 and continues until November 30. The period is usually a rainy one, even if a hurricane does not develop.
Another disaster preparedness mitigation tip is to plant crops that are more tolerant to water.
“[That is your] green leafy vegetables to some extent and tree crops, which will not wilt readily with excess water. Our farmers, many of them operate in greenhouses, so they will be somewhat protected from excess rain, because these plants are grown above ground and to some extent in containers,” Mr. Thompson noted.
While some areas experience rain, others go through a period when soil moisture is inadequate to meet the demands for crops to initiate and sustain plant growth.
For farmers who are experiencing drought, Mr. Thompson recommends planting drought-tolerant crops, such as cassava and other tubers.
He also said farmers should implement a rainwater harvesting system during the rainy season to decrease their reliance on their domestic water supply.
“We will be making a bold attempt to assist these farmers with irrigation systems. Unfortunately, we can’t accommodate all farmers, because resources are limited, but whatever we can do to assess and to assist the most vulnerable farmers, then we will be trying to work with them,” Mr. Thompson said.
He informed that RADA will be providing irrigation kits, which will include black tanks and irrigation houses.
“In some areas, we expect farmers will harvest water from their roofs, especially if they have buildings in close proximity to the farming area, so you don’t use domestic water for agricultural purposes. There are disadvantages of using domestic water, as it acidifies the soil to some extent,” Mr. Thompson pointed out.
For queries or further information, farmers can visit the nearest RADA office or call 888-ASK-RADA (888-275-7232).