Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2015 Contents A40
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 10, 2015
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One long-time coffee farmer has
warned that the bush fires sweeping
across several communities in east
rural Jamaica since last Saturday could
leave billions of dollars in losses and
deliver a major blow to the nation s
world-renowned coffee industry.
Up to yesterday, Joan Gordon-Web-
ley s 40-acre coffee farm remained
intact, but that has not prevented her
from standing with other farmers who,
along with firefighters, have watched
almost helplessly as large areas of crops
go up in smoke. The former MP for
east rural St Andrew reported that sev-
eral farmers have lost their entire crop.
"Blue Mountain coffee is the best in
the world, and the government has
been trying to boost production ...
When you wipe out this expanse of
coffee, you are going to get a beating.
The coffee industry is going to get a
hit---a terrible hit," she warned.
"Even when you put that back in the
ground, you start to get a little bearing
[harvesting] in two years, (but) that
cannot compensate for what has been
burnt now," she added.
It is still unclear how the fires started,
but it s believed that it started last Sat-
urday in the community of Mount
Charles and quickly spread to sections
of Mavis Bank, Tower Hill, and the
community of Flamstead.
District officer for the Jamaica Fire
Brigade Patrick Levy acknowledged yes-
terday that wind conditions, the hilly
terrain, and poor water supply have left
the men and women under his command
almost powerless to fight the blaze.
"We normally work where you have
roadway, but, as you can see, most of
the area is inaccessible to the unit and
the amount of hoses that we have.
Thank God we have the JDF (Jamaica
Defence Force), who is doing some
aerial extinguishing for us," said Levy.
However, by midday, the JDF chopper
that was being used to douse some of
the worst-affected areas with buckets
of water was reportedly grounded
because of high winds. Up to late after-
noon, fire officials could not say if the
fires were under control.
For Gordon-Webley and other farm-
ers, who declined to give their names,
these have been the worst fires they
have experienced in their many years
of farming. The former parliamentary
representative for the area said that the
blaze got so bad that she instructed
the men employed on her farm "to let
it burn." (Gleaner)
Farmers watch as coffee
crop goes up in smoke
A Jamaica Defence Force helicopter
transports water to fight the raging
bush fire in Mavis Bank, yesterday.
PHOTOS COURTESY JAMAICA GLEANER
Farmer Joan Gordon Webley talks
about the impact of the fire raging in
the area where the world-famous Blue
Mountain coffee is grown.
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