‘Farming is not for the weak’
MORANT BAY, St Thomas — Most of Pauletta Welsh’s crops died during the recent rains, and she has warned of the emotional toll the flooding has taken on farmers left cropless, disheartened, and unprepared for the usually lucrative holiday season.
Welsh agrees with predictions that produce prices will skyrocket but the experienced farmer from Albion Heights will be among those who will have no crops to sell.
“Farming is not for the weak. Seeing all your hard work washed away is really disheartening,” Welsh told the Jamaica Observer.
“When they think of how they have used up all their resources, effort and time and now have nothing to reap, it is very hard for some farmers,” she added.
Welsh plants small crops such as hot pepper, sweet pepper, tomato, and cabbage — and they are particularly vulnerable when there is flooding. She explained that the saturated soil has caused root rot.
“It really depends on the stage at which the crops are at. My crops were at the fruiting stage so most of them died,” Welsh outlined.
There were similar reports from farmers during a visit to Morant Bay Market on Tuesday. Many of them said they lost hot pepper, sweet pepper, sorrel, tomato, and scallion.
“The rain and the breeze mash me up; me get flood out. Me lose some tomato and some young corn — dem wash weh, man,” said Noel Brown from Spring Garden.
Needham Pen resident Jefferson Wray said he lost similar crops.
“I had some tomato, sweet pepper, hot pepper, scallion and I lost everything, every single thing. I didn’t have a good drainage system set up so the water washed away everything,” he bemoaned.
Ricaldo Rashford from Thornton district said he is trying to have a positive attitude, despite his losses.
“I lost a lot of sorrel and mi banana dem blow down. A lot of the things got washed away and covered by dirt. All the tomato and pepper them? All a dem gone because the water very dangerous and just a wash through the crops. But, we just have to bear it as a loss,” reasoned Rashford.
Meanwhile Iesha Reid, a young female livestock farmer from Middleton, has been left dismayed by the death of some of her pigs.
“I had like 17 piglets that I just got and I lost three piglets and a mother pig. It is very close to Christmas and people are always looking to buy piglets for rearing or for meat purposes so it was rough for me,” she said.
Raging waters from the heavy rain also swept away a section of her pig pen, which led to some of the piglets straying.
However in the midst of the losses she has faced Reid remains thankful for what she has left.
Like her, many farmers are now looking at how they can rebuild and recover so as to benefit, in even a small way, from the business expected for Christmas.