There is a 60% chance of below normal rainfall for 2016 dry season and farmers are being encouraged to place more emphasis on crops that are known to prosper more in dry periods.
This advice was given by Land Use Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Trevor Thompson at a Press Briefing held by NAWASA to update the public on the upcoming dry season.
Speaking at the press conference held at NAWASA’s Board Room on the Carenage last week Wednesday, Thompson said the island is expected to experience a very harsh dry season in the coming months.
“We’re not saying that no rain is going to fall at all but what is going to fall is way below what is normal for this time of the year and that is where the impact is going to be felt. Also, from the outlook, we are experiencing very high day time temperature; it means therefore that a lot more moisture will be removed from the soil.
“…It’s going to be extremely dry and it means that vegetables are going to have a hard time and we’ve seen in the past that we have lost a lot of oranges and other fruit trees, so if you’re going to do vegetables you have to have some kind of back up irrigation system.
According to Thompson, the Ministry of Agriculture wants farmers to know that it is important that they keep tuned to the Meteorological Office at Point Salines for its weather updates, so that they would not be caught off-guard resulting in loss of crops.
“We have been working with the Extension Division (of the Ministry of Agriculture) to work with their farmers in their districts to inform them what the outlook is looking like and what kind of crops they can produce. So, tomatoes don’t do well in the rainy season but because we had such a dry period between October and November we had a fair amount of tomatoes for the Christmas because it does well in dry periods …”, he said.
The public officer reminded farmers that the conservation of moisture in the soil should become a priority for them during the dry season.
He urged them to use “as much mulch as possible”, adding that Pen Manure should be considered as it keeps a lot of moisture in the soil”, as well as grass and other mulches.
“If you’re gonna use chip wood then it must be dry as possible and if you using irrigation, you have to pay attention to your crops, you have to pay attention to fixing all leaks.
“You have to pay attention to water use efficiency. We want you to use water as efficiently as possible. The type of irrigation you use, if you use overhead sprinklers, you have to change to use drip irrigation where you’re now applying water directly to the root of the crop.