While still reeling from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economies, Caribbean countries are now being placed on high alert for a very active hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is expecting between 13-20 named storms for the hurricane season which officially begins on June 1 and ends on 30 November. Based on the continued warmer than average sea temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, scientists are projecting 3-5 of these storms to develop into major hurricanes.
The catastrophic impacts of hurricanes on the Caribbean’s agriculture sector over the years are well documented. They have resulted in the loss of crops and animals, disrupted livelihoods and compromised the food and nutrition security of the populace.
The NOAA is urging citizens to get ready and keep up to date with weather reports.
Farmers are encouraged to stock up on water, medication and feed for animals. Keeping inventories updated and reinforcing the roofs of animal housing and farm structures are also worthy investments.
When hurricanes are imminent, crops that can be harvested should be and stored or sold where possible. A good preparedness strategy is diversifying farm operations – the inclusion of root crops is always a good option as they are more resilient to damage. On-farm assets such as drip lines and water tanks should be removed and placed in storage.
Farmers should keep seeds and planting material in stock so they can restart production with immediacy after disasters.
If available, farmers should invest in insurance as part of their recovery strategy.
CARDI will continue to work with the Seed Labs and Tissue Culture Labs in the Region to store planting material and make them available as part of the regional post-disaster recovery efforts. Additionally, the Institute will leverage its extensive network of partnerships to garner resources to assist in rebuilding efforts. The goals are to restore production quickly and build back stronger.