Dry spells predicted across Caribbean

According to the Caribbean Society for Agricultural Meteorology (CariSAM) Bulletin, produced by CARDI and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), by the end of April 2022, impacts from short-term drought may be of a concern across some countries including Antigua and Martinique and possibly across Barbados, western Belize, Dominica, northern Haiti, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Long-term drought that can impact large reservoirs, large rivers or groundwater would likely present a challenge in farming across countries like Dominica, Martinique and possibly across Antigua, southern Belize, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines by the end of May 2022.

 

Rainfall totals (from February through April) could possibly be the usual or higher across the Lesser Antilles, the ABC Islands and the Guianas, but likely to be the usual or drier across Cuba and The Bahamas. Marginal increase of flooding and soil erosion potential is likely across Guyana through April because of an increase in wet spells.

 

The depletion of water availability in soils causes significant declines in crops and livestock productivity and jeopardizes the livelihoods of farmers. To adapt, farmers are advised to consider planting plots that can be satisfactorily irrigated with their limited water resources as well as select planting varieties that can tolerate dry spells and drought conditions. It is also a good practice to identify alternate water sources for irrigation and if possible store water for use during these drier periods. Employing on-farm strategies such as mulching and irrigation scheduling with the accompanying water saving devices (drip lines and timers) are useful.

 

For livestock, farmers are encouraged to ensure animals have access to clean water and shade is provided in pastures. The implementation of rotational grazing on pastures also promotes regrowth and increases the fields’ water absorption capacity.

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