St Mary farmers welcome 'showers of blessing'
A farmer, who calls himself "Resistance ", shows off a bunch of banana which he recently reaped from his farm in Robin's Bay, St Mary. (Photo: Ingrid Henry)

ROBIN'S Bay, St Mary — Heavy rain late last week brought tears of joy to farmers here in Robin's Bay as their fields enjoyed a respite from the drought which had them sweating for months.

Watching what they described as "showers of blessing" from inside a shop in the community last Thursday, the farmers were overjoyed as they welcomed the break in the drought.

A plantain and banana farmer for more than 20 years, who gave his name as "Resistance", smiled broadly as he lit a ganja 'spliff' (cigarette) while appearing to be trying to count the rain drops.

Shaking his head, Resistance told the Jamaica Observer that the current drought was the worst he had ever seen in the parish.

"We want the rain as the drought brings down everything. We want at least a week more of this and we good for the next three months," said Resistance as the smoke from his spliff circled his head like the rain clouds in the sky.

While giving thanks for the showers Resistance said as soon as the rain breaks he would be back in the field.

"Mi ago get some man and we work the field like how the earth soft," said Resistance as he pointed out that he also plants tomatoes, Scotch bonnet peppers, sweet potatoes and sweet peppers which the drought had impacted to the point that he was unable to profit from them.

"When you look at the peppers how them small, while the sweet peppers and tomatoes burned off. The pumpkins never bear at all," said the farmer, who told the Observer that farming is his joy as he becomes one with the earth.

The usually jovial Rastafarian shook his head as he lamented that his work on his farm didn't bear any fruit because of the drought.

"My kids [were] affected cause them can't eat and me can't sell," added Resistance. He said that under pressure from the drought he turned to rearing goats but he was plagued by thieves.

"Them go through my field and cut bananas, plantains and steal the goats," said Resistance, claiming that he has lost more than $200,000 to the thieves.

The farmer laughed loudly as he responded to a question on whether he had reported the theft to the police.

"You go and report it to the police and them not coming to look; them just write it down and it dies there," claimed Resistance as he told the Observer that farming is not his only skill.

"Mi is a mason and artiste so when nothing not going on that is where mi have to eat a food," said Resistance.

Another farmer, 27-year-old farmer Rudolph "Deh Deh" Pendergast, said he also had to give thanks for his skill as a mason during the drought period as he also faced the challenges of praedial larceny and the death of his plants, including melon, sweet peppers, plantains and tomatoes.

"The drought do we bad in the parish, but the farmers down St Ann, near White River side, they didn't feel it like we," said Pendergrast as he pointed out that the farmers were glad for the rain as they have invested in the land and want to see returns.

As Resistance, Pendergast and other farmers watched the heavy downpour, they also lamented the high cost of fertiliser and farming equipment which they said was a burden on them and they are not getting support from State agencies.

"We are RADA [Rural Agricultural Development Authority] registered farmers but we never get anything. It look like only special people get," charged Pendergast.

He was supported by his colleagues who argued that there is a need for representatives of RADA to have regular meetings with the small farmers, including those in Robin's Bay.

Ingrid Henry

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