Praying for rain
Farmers anxious for relief from scorching heat
They say when it rains it pours. And that’s exactly what farmers in Barbados are hoping for.
The rains can’t get here any sooner for some of the island’s farmers, some of whom have been battling to keep their businesses alive in the current drought conditions over the past several months.
Earlier this week, the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) revealed that those drought conditions were expected to subside around April/May.
However, the CIMH also predicted huge amounts of rainfall in the coming months, with the possibility of landslides and flashfloods during the hurricane season.
Today Barbados TODAY spoke with several farmers who said they couldn’t wait for the rains to come. One of those farmers was Frederick Barrow, who operates a three-acre farm in Kirton’s, St Philip.
Although Barrow appeared to be coping quite well amid the challenging environmental conditions, he admitted to praying for some rain.
“I brace myself for the opposite all the time. We could get good rainfall and then other times we could get no rainfall at all. We in this area have been doing pretty well with water because we get water everyday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The drought hasn’t really affected us as bad as it has some other farmers,” Barrow disclosed.
“But the news that a lot of rain is on its way is more than welcomed. . . because once you get the water anything can happen.
Asked what he would do in the event of floods, Barrow threw his hands in the air saying: “There isn’t anything much more that you can do except to ensure you have a good drainage system”.
However, the St Philip farmer appeared far more concerned about the current drought conditions that have prevented him from planting onions, which require lots of water to grow.
Instead he’s been planting cucumbers, okras, tomatoes beans and lettuce.
Another farmer who raises 5,000 chickens a short distance away from Barrow’s farm was also anxious for the rains to arrive since the chickens have been suffering from the heat.
“The chickens haven’t really been affected in terms of water, but the heat has been a factor especially when the chickens start to get bigger,” the farmer who preferred to remain anonymous said.
“What I would say though is that I am relieved to hear that some rain is coming. I mean no one wants any flooding, but I’m sure that everyone will welcome the rain whenever it comes.”
Manager of Walkers Dairy Paul Davis wants the rain just as much as any other farmer.
However, he isn’t totally sold on the CIMH’s predictions.
The dry conditions have severely affected operations at his 120-acre dairy farm in Walkers, St George, which comprises 140 cows and calves.
And while he badly wants some rainfall, he told Barbados TODAY he isn’t getting too excited just yet.
“It’s not that I don’t believe it, but I just think that it’s a bit far ahead for them to be making those predictions,” Davis said.
“That to me is a long range forecast and I will believe it when I see it, but even if I get back to normal rainfall I will be happy.”
He did reveal though that the drought had been hard on his business.
“Milk is 87 per cent water, so it’ been really tough. I usually collect a lot of water here. I have a tank which is about 20,000 gallon. . . but when that’s not enough to supply the needs that I have. I have to continue to buy Government water, so that’s the expensive part of it.”
He said the drought had also affected forage “so I have had to do a lot of work, including chopping cane and guinea grass from miles away just to keep the animals fed”.
What has been even more problematic in recent times for the farmer is the sudden emergence of pythium fungus, which Davis said had taken over the grass and had the potential to drive him out of business.