Department of Agriculture is doing work to keep farmers safe during hurricane season

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By Orville Williams

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Although this year’s Atlantic hurricane season was relatively calm for Antigua and Barbuda, the Department of Agriculture is aware of its responsibility to help farmers secure their operations against extreme weather activity.

Food production and food security are among the most important concerns for countries like the twin island nation, and these have been accentuated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine and the rise in global inflation.

This therefore means that the protection of farmers and their assets cannot be left to chance – an attitude that Kenrick Francis of the Ministry’s Extension Division told Observer has been adopted for several years now.

“Each year, the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Extension Division, has a program [where we utilise] excavators [and] backhoes for cleaning ponds and cleaning drains, especially in flood prone areas. [This] helps farmers to [threat of flooding].

“We [also] go to the ranching areas, where the farmers have a lot of livestock, and we actually help them clean up all these drains and waterways to alleviate these issues,” he explained.

The agricultural sector is currently experiencing shocks – some of which are mentioned above – that require urgent attention and solutions.

However, that hasn’t distracted from hurricane preparedness, as Francis said work is already underway to mitigate potential impacts.

“We have already started the program since May and the farmers are already doing their inventory, [doing] inventory. Those in lower areas are actually moving to higher ground, and as I mentioned before, we are already in the cleaning of sewers and ponds, so things are happening,” Francis said. .

The Extension Division also continues to work on an identification and registration system for farmers in the country, which should help keep their information up to date and easily accessible in times of crisis.

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