Following the passage of Hurricane Maria, reports from on the ground indicated that agriculture was totally destroyed. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) led CARICOM’s response and reported severe damage to farm housing, irrigation, infrastructure, feeder roads, forest reserves, coastal fisheries and widespread loss of poultry. For Dominica, this was significant since at least 25% of the population directly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
CARDI has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MOAF) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to assist in rebuilding Dominica’s ravaged agriculture sector. Emphasis has been placed on providing short term relief to kick-start agricultural production. By restoring agricultural productivity on the island, livelihoods will be sustained and the dependency on food aid in the less affected communities will be reduced.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, CARDI and IICA representatives conducted a needs assessment of farmers’ groups and associations across the island. The assessment yielded useful baseline data which helped inform the needs and type of support these groups required under the IICA/CARDI Technical Cooperation framework.
More than 300 persons from the Belles Farmers Cooperative, Cockrane United Farmers Group, Bee Keepers Association, SOUL Multi-Purpose Cooperative, North East Women in Action, the Warner Farmers Group and the 4H Club received agro chemicals, apiary materials, farm tools and equipment, irrigation items and material for livestock housing and fencing material. The value of these farming inputs totalled US$21,500.
Funding to the tune of US$21,104 was also provided to the MOAF to purchase seeds, nursery material irrigation and nursery supplies from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Tree crops were not spared from the wrath of Hurricane Maria. More than 90% of coconut trees in Dominica were reportedly destroyed. Following a request from the MOAF, CARDI under the EU-funded project, Coconut Industry Development for the Caribbean, will supply 10,000 seednuts and 10,000 tissue culture plantlets to assist in re-establishing 250 acres of waternuts and 250 acres of coconuts for processing. These planting materials are expected to be on island by the end of May 2018.