Agricultural sectors in the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica will overcome the destruction left by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute has said.
CARDI Director Barton Clarke announced that the organization had assessed the damage across both islands and authorities are now prepared to address their agricultural needs more efficiently.
The regional institution will meet with the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to work out a plan of action, Clarke said.
During an interview earlier this month, prior to the 71st Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Agriculture and Caribbean Community, Clarke said that authorities plan to begin planting short-term crops immediately.
Plentiful stocks of small seed banks of pumpkin and red kidney beans are readily available in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago, while other seeds and building materials can be acquired from big seed companies.
“There’s the issue of food supply in Dominica. Dominica had a fairly vibrant agriculture sector and there was a very strong tradition of consuming root crops such as yams, dasheens, tannias and cassava … All those are gone,” Clarke said of the destruction left behind by the two Category 5 hurricanes, adding that the damage to the food supply multiplied in a domino effect.
In Dominica, where strong fruit trees once stood, branches sinking low under the weight of coconuts, citrus and avocados, now stand splintered branches and piles of leaves. Even root crops were ripped from the ground.
“Dominica has been providing food products to Martinique, Guadeloupe, Antigua, the northern Leeward Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla … all that is gone. So you have the impact of the destruction of the food supply systems in Dominica but also the food supply systems in the French Caribbean and the northern Caribbean as well,” Clarke explained.
As can be expected in light of the post-hurricane destruction, food prices on items arriving from the Caribbean have skyrocketed with consumers already feeling the effects in supermarkets and further increases predicted for the coming months.
“Any impacts of the hurricane we will likely see in prices charged in October and November and it all depends on when importers were to import these fruits and vegetables,” said a research officer from the Statistics Division, Jerry Aska.
The Statistical Division monitors both yearly and monthly price increases, publishing their findings in the monthly Consumer Price Index.