Ministry of Agriculture Assessing Crop Damage Due to Persistent Rains
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise is assessing how the persistent rains over the weekend have affected farmers’ crops. Clifford Martinez Director of extension Services for the Ministry, explained that the rains cause issues for farmers and livestock producers through flooding, saturating soils and causing the spread of diseases. Martinez said that, thus far, the Ministry has not received any reports but that historically, farmers don’t report losses until a few days after the rains stop.
Clifford Martinez, Director of Extension Services: “We do anticipate though that some reports will start to trickle in especially because farmers will now have access to their farming area who didn’t have access and we’re certain that the respective offices in the district will start to get some of the concerns wherever damages are occurring. What is normally the case when conditions are like this production will be affected by farmers not having access to their areas, where there are flood areas we know that damages will be there because of flooding and where there are high areas precipitation or excessive precipitation would cause a problem. So we are anticipating reports of losses and damages for some of the areas. In the Cayo district that’s where we believe we’ll get most of our reports in terms of losses and that would be probably Valley of Peace area, La Gracia, San Antonio and then Seven Miles. These are the more active communities at this time of the year in terms of planting. We finished up farmers meeting last week and in that farmers meeting it coincided with the crop calendar that we have for the ministry. At this time of the year in the month of November it’s the planting season for most of our commodities. So for example we’ll start to see potato planting at this time so if there were early planters of potato we believe that we should hear some losses coming out from recently planted potato fields and that would be potato seed rot and then the different bacteria or diseases and pests as a result of the flood conditions or saturated soil conditions.”
Martinez said that, based on initial assessments, northern Belize was spared severe impacts, and that teams have already been deployed to the area conducting assessment. He notes that the Belize and Cayo districts are believed to be the most adversely affected and that potatoes and carrots are among the crops that would be impacted by the rains.
Clifford Martinez, Director of Extension Services: “It seems that this will be more localized to the Cayo district and the Belize district that is what it appears as at this moment. Corozal and Orange Walk which are larger population of small producers which translate to larger population of small production we’re not anticipating that there will be much damages and losses in those areas. We would recommend to our farmers for example the grain producers they would have harvest already last month and this month most grain producers would have harvested and that’s corn and so if there’s losses it would be to storage facilities and again that would be because of flooding. I believe that some of the NEMO units will be activated and our officers are a par t of the NEMO group that are out and conduct assessment and provide reporting so those reports will be validated through the NEMO reports and then the Ministry of Agriculture provides it’s own detailed report because eventually if there is assistance to be provided or funds to be sourced our detailed report would substantiate loss and damages reports so that would be helpful eventually.”
The National Meteorological Service of Belize reports that over the weekend the Belize and Cayo districts saw seven and nine inches of rainfall respectively. The weather forecasts models predict that the weather should clear up by Thursday.