Let it rain
Dry spell worries local farmers
Local farmers are keeping their eyes on the skies, hoping that the rains will come more frequently over the next several weeks, and that the remainder of the wet season won’t be as dry as what was experienced last month. Only 17.55 mm of rain was recorded by the Meteorological Office last month, a significant drop from the 4.65 inches recorded for the corresponding period in 2014, and meteorologist David Best told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that farmers can expect a below-par rainy season this year.
Agriculture and livestock farmers worry that if the predictions hold up they could face huge losses. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul has told Barbados TODAY that while he had not had any complaints from farmers as yet, unless there was some rainfall in the coming days problems would arise. “If this situation continues we will have problems. We are going to have to start looking at some strategies to facilitate the watering of crops in times like these,” he said. Paul suggested that farmers would have to look at collecting and storing as much rainwater as possible during times of plenty in order to avoid potential danger during periods of drought.
He also said the BAS would explore the possibility of converting the large amount of waste water produced by some companies into use for the agricultural sector.
According to meteorologist Best, the dry conditions experienced in July are expected to continue through to the end of the hurricane season on November 30.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY in a telephone interview, Best revealed that extremely weak tropical systems were to blame for the lack of rain in recent months.
“During the hurricane season, which is the wet season in our part of the world, from June to the end of November, it is around this time of the year that we get tropical waves coming off the African Coast. Then some of them develop into tropical storms and maybe even hurricanes.
“These systems play a major role in generating shower activity during the wet season in the Eastern Caribbean. But what has been happening is that we have been getting some extremely weak tropical waves . . . the tropical waves have been coming, but they are extremely weak,” he explained.
“As a result, there are not generating the type of precipitation that they normally do.”
Best said this could present some problems for farmers, especially those who depend primarily on rain to help water their crops.
Farmers and residents of Sanford and Mapps St Philip were especially hard hit today, when their entire irrigation system was shut off due to low water levels in the irrigation wells, as well as damage to one of the pumps.
“Farmers may very well have to look for alternative sources of irrigation. They will have to ensure they find some form of irrigation to help keep their plants growing, or they are going to suffer,” Best stated.
Meantime, acting Senior Meteorological Assistant 1 at the Meteorological Office David Harding revealed that to date, the 15.06 inches of rain recorded for the year was above the 13.84 inches for the same period in 2014.
However, those numbers paled in comparison to the 29 inches recorded in 2010, the 31 inches in 2011, 23 inches in 2012 and 19 inches in 2013.
Harding also agreed that the hurricane season was shaping up to be one of the driest in recent times.
“If you compare the levels for the past two to three years, it has been on average so far for the year. But last month we didn’t even have an inch of rain . . . which is a lot less than last year. This July was one of the driest we had in a long time,” Harding said.
He revealed this was only the second time since 2007 that less than three inches of rain was recorded in July, with 2.43 inches recorded in 2013.