Two days of heavy rain caused devastation to 200 acres of crops at Poodai Lagoon, Goodman Branch Trace, Penal and has affected more than 60 vegetable farmers.
On Saturday, the farmers were pumping out water using buckets and water pump devices, but they were unable to salvage any of the plants.
They said that this was not the first time they had experienced loss due to flooding, but it the first time occurring during the dry season. The farmers blame poor drainage and a malfunctioning floodgate in the area for the flooding. They said the pallets on the floodgate became immobile and the authorities removed the water pump seven years ago and it was never replaced.
Vegetable farmer Solomon Mohammed, who spent more than 30 years planting, called on the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat to be get out of the office and attend to their needs.
Mohammed said, “Altogether is over $100 thousand dollars (TT) we lost. They carry the pump and they never bring it back, if it was there this wasn’t going to happen. The main thing to stop the flooding is a pump. This is not the first time we get a flood. You can’t stop the rain from falling, but if the people in charge do their work this won’t happen.
“The minister can’t stay in his office, he have to come in to see what happening here and get it clean up. Don’t just send people, the (workmen) just coming and scraping it (debris) up and going. And we want the floodgate fixed and bring back the pump.”
Another farmer, Ramchan Ramnarine said the main produce was watermelon, while some people also planted tomatoes, bodi, ochre, sweet potatoes, and caraili.
Ramnarine said most of the farmers depend on the money from the crops to take care of their families. He said the system was working against them and putting a strain on their pockets.
Ramnarine said, “We used our savings to plant the crop and we didn’t get back anything as yet, so it is a complete loss. The incentives take too long to come, even the subsidy, which they say is an incentive for the farmers, I have two years subsidy piling up. We don’t get it back in time to start again.”
The farmers said they are hoping for good weather so they can replant.