Over 25 Penal farmers are now counting their losses after floods caused by heavy rainfall left their crops under water yesterday.
From as early as 5 am, farmers were in the fields trying to pump out as much water as they could in an attempt to save their crops which spanned 60 acres in an area known as the Podai Lagoon.
Farmer Glenford Ramnarine said the fields usually flooded whenever there was heavy rainfall.
“The main cause is—I reported this last year based on the same flooding problem the farmers get—is that there was a water pump at the flood gate in Goodman Road and there is nothing there at present. What we are saying is that if we could get back a water pump there, it will help to pull out the water at the Podai Lagoon at a faster pace and that could help alleviate all this water problem they having here,” Ramnarine said.
He noted that there were at least 12 pumps sucking out water from the fields.
Ramnarine said they grew a wide variety of crops but the main one was watermelon. He said if the rain continued to fall, the majority of their crops would die. He recalled that when their crops were destroyed in the floods last year, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat compensated the farmers but some of them did not receive any money.
Another farmer, Solomon Mohammed, said it had been raining since Tuesday but they experienced heavy rainfall over the last 24-hour period.
Mohammed, who has nine acres of watermelon and three acres of corn, estimated his losses to be more than $50,000.
“Last year, we get two floods, in March and May, some farmers get compensation and some of them did not. So when we lose this kind of money— $50,000—where you going to get the money to invest back to plant back again? And last year you lose $50,000 to $60,000, this year you come and lose $50,000 to $60,000, you have to start to rob people. Is not fair.”
With more rain expected, however, Mohammed said they were not sure if they would be able to save any of their crops or how they would bounce back from this.
“I don’t know where we going from here. We owing the agro shop, all kind of thing…If it have more rain, it going to be 100 per cent damage,” Mohammed complained.
Farmer Braimchan Pariag said that the waterways needed to be dredged.
“If they don’t clean the channel the water can’t come down. This is the position we in now. I had to dig hole and pump water for three or four months, since the beginning of January I pumping water and I still pumping water here,” he lamented.
Another farmer, Seepersad Ramnarine, said once the sun came out, their crops would wither away.
He complained, “The water does damage the plants, from the root go up. Last year, we had it twice and the compensation was very little, some farmers did not get any compensation. I don’t know what will happen here again.”
Seepersad said he invested about $15,000 to $20,000, but other people invested more.
“We don’t check labour because a farmer does work 24 hours a day. It may sound strange but even when you going to sleep you thinking about what you going to do next day. So you always in the garden. We does use headlights sometimes to work in the night,” he added.