Business

Nature's cruel contrasts

Rain leaves Westmoreland farmers reeling as drought hits crops in other sections of island

BY TERRON DEWAR Business reporter dewart@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 03, 2014    

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WHILE farmers in some sections of the island continue to grapple with losses resulting from the prolonged drought, their counterparts in Westmoreland have been left reeling from the opposite force of nature — rain.

According to Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) Regional Manager Denver Thorpe, farmers in Westmoreland have complained to him that the rain has been washing away some of their red pea seedlings.

Thorpe said that the JAS, under its national red peas programme, had distributed about 1,800 pounds of red peas for planting to farmers in Hanover, St James, Westmoreland, and St James for which he has responsibility.

"A number of the farmers in Westmoreland have complained that the rain has washed away a number of their seedlings before they could reap them, and those who reaped did not get the best results because of damage done by the rain," Thorpe told Sunday Finance.

Last week, Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill declared that preliminary rainfall figures for the month of June indicate that Jamaica received only 30 per cent of its normal rainfall and all parishes, with the exception of sections of Westmoreland (54 per cent), received less than half of their normal rainfall.

Thorpe said that amidst Westmoreland's good fortune with getting enough rainfall to sustain its agricultural activity, the JAS and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) continue to encourage farmers to harvest water while the commodity is in abundance.

In addition to the drive to encourage rainwater harvesting, Thorpe said that the JAS and RADA have been encouraging a co-operative 'branch' approach among farmers in the parish through the distribution of water pumps.

A branch consists of a minimum of 20 farmers, but no more than 100 are grouped in an effort to facilitate efforts of sustainable co-operation among themselves.

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