Farmers report losses and small harvest

Farmers report losses and small harvest

06 April 2010

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Vegetable and provision farmers are hoping for rain soon as they are reporting significant losses as a result of the continuing drought conditions and bush fires across Trinidad and Tobago.

Retail market prices have doubled in recent weeks because of low yielding crops, farmers said.

Farmers who grow provisions like cassava, yams, sweet potatoes and dasheen, say they have experienced up to 50 percent drop in yields per acre and farmers contracted to supply cassava to the Trinidad and Tobago Agri-Business Association (TTABA) have had to wait longer than eight months to harvest their crops, they told Newsday.

They hope their harvest would improve to at least half of the 8,000 pounds per acre they usually reap.

In 2009, the State agency purchased around 1.5 million pounds of cassava which were processed into fries, cubes and wedges.

According to central-based cassava farmer, Ramjattan Harrikissoon, the root crop was considered one of the crops that can thrive in most soil types and withstand drought or flood.

“Because of the lack of rainfall the crops did not yield as the previous years even though the farmers had to endure the same amount of work in planting and caring for the crops,” Harrikissoon told Newsday yesterday. Also affecting farmers are the numerous bush fires which also have affected food crop production, farmers said yesterday. In March, bush fire ravaged 20 acres of parched land in De Gannes Village, Siparia, destroying herds of livestock, timber and several orchards, before spreading to six homes.

Mark Bissessar, 40, a third generation citrus farmer who cultivated 40 acres of land and reared livestock including sheep, reported his losses to be in millions of dollars.

For this year, over 3,000 confirmed cases of bush fires have been reported to the Fire Services.


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