Farmers urged to get storm-ready
THE Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is urging farmers islandwide to make preparations to protect their properties, crops and livestock against the impact of potential storms.
Jamaica is now in the second month of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
Speaking to JIS News in a recent interview, senior plant health and food-safety officer at RADA, Francine Webb-Lawrence said there are many risks that come with the season.
“Winds and heavy rains associated with the hurricane can cause significant damage to crops. The winds can break the plants, uproot them, or cause other kinds of physical damage. Heavy rains and flooding can also drown the plants, wash them away, or cause damage through soil erosion. Depending on the growth stage of the crop, depending on the type of damage, this can actually lead to total loss,” she pointed out.
“For the livestock farmer, you’re talking about flooding, high winds, and flying debris that can damage livestock structures,” she said, noting that if livestock are not properly protected this can create the potential for disease outbreak.
She advised farmers to register with RADA as part of efforts aimed at disaster mitigation.
“We want to know that you are there and the type of support that you need. Registering is important for the farmer to be able to communicate as well, so that the ministry can adequately prepare and provide support,” she said.
Webb Lawrence further encouraged farmers to not only have first-aid kits, portable radios, and batteries on hand but to also have a detailed emergency plan in place.
“Now is a good time to sit and think about what your disaster risk management plan is. It is good to have that laid out and documented so that, when necessary, it is ready and you can fully implement that,” she said.
Farmers are advised to incorporate hurricane preparedness in their planting and livestock rearing calendar.
“There are some basic things in terms of the farm that should also be done. Know the area that you’re in and put your farm buildings away from areas that are prone to flooding. It’s also important for farmers to come together, look at what your risks are and to see how, as a group, risks and impact can be reduced,” Webb Lawrence recommended.
Persons can visit rada.gov.jm for further information and to access support from extension officers.