Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 29th 2017 Contents YVONNE BABOOLAL
The morning after Tropical
Storm Bret pounded the
country last week Monday,
T&T's unofficial hot pepper
king, Nawaz Karim, stood qui-
etly surveying his five acres of
rain damaged tomatoes on his Maloney farm,
trying to keep his spirits up.
"We had invested over $200,000 in the
Karim said he was looking forward to reaping
the crop because of an increase in the price of
tomatoes after a few months' slump.
"I thought we would have recovered some of
our investment. But, this is the life. We have
to live," Karim, who left a regular career in his
late teens for farming because of his love for
it, said with resilience.
Still thankful for small mercies, he said he
will be able to salvage some of the tomatoes
unlike some farmers who had 100 per cent
He said farmers in Las Lomas and Orange
Grove and other parts of central and south had
"total destruction" and would not be able to
get back on their feet for the next two or three
"It's going to be tough."
Karim warned of very high prices of fresh
vegetables in the coming months.
Young farmer, Daryl Rampersad of Orange
Grove, is one of dozens who experienced al-
most "total destruction" of their fields.
"I had one acre of melongene (baigan) with
1,700 trees. About 75 per cent of it gone through
With melongene retailing at $7 a pound.
Rampersad would have earned $7,000 weekly.
He estimates his overall losses to be around
Rampersad, a father of one, said he was de-
pending on the returns from his crops to see
him through until September. Two labourers
he had hired at $200 each a day are now home
But Rampersad, too, is taking it in good
"A natural disaster is something you have
no control over. At times like these, you have
no choice but to just pick up the pieces and
start all over."
He said market prices of most produce are
very high right now and warned the "worst is
yet to come" in about two weeks.
"Everything will double up," he said.
Karim and Rampersad are among sever-
al farmers across T&T, from Orange Grove,
Maloney and Plum Mitan in the east, to Taba-
quite and other parts of central, Barackpore and
Penal in the south and Aranguez on the east/
west corridor, who sustained major damage
to their crops through flooding or prolonged
rainfall after Bret.
Agricultural Society of T&T (ASTT) presi-
dent, Dhano Sookoo, also warned consumers
to brace for high market prices because of the
shortage of produce. She estimates millions
of dollars in losses in agricultural produce
Sookoo said farmers all over T&T sustained
significant damages to their crops. "In Felic-
ity, a farmer lost his entire five-acre crop of
sweet potatoes. A large food crop association
in Iere Village, Princes Town, lost crops from
rain damage. The trees are all beaten up, the
produce fell off, the flowers fell off."
She said farmers are bracing for more bad
Sookoo said the ASTT is still compiling a list
of farmers who are entitled to compensation
to present to the Agriculture Ministry.
She, however, is insisting the existing flood
relief compensation for farmers remains woe-
"Based on the existing flood relief schedule,
they pay farmers 50 cents a plant. But a seedling
alone costs $5 and farmers would have invested
more money to bring the plant to maturity.
Farmers like Rampersad said he does not
bother to apply for compensation because
the "couple hundreds" he would get would
not even cover the cost of his seeds.
Sookoo said the ASTT had earlier recom-
mended farmers who lose crops in natural
disasters be compensated according to the
"Quantify the production per acre and pay
the market value."
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat,
in an earlier T&T Guardian interview, identi-
fied agricultural damage in Tabaquite, Orange
Grove, parts of central and Penal and Barack-
pore in the deep South.
He said farmers would be assessed and com-
pensated based on the exisiting programme,
adding that he was making arrangements to
have agricultural officers visit farmers to assess
the damage rather than have them visit the
ministry's office with claims.
BG8 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt JUNE 29 • 2017
Brace for high food prices
Nawaz Karim observes his damaged
crops after Tropical Storm Bret.
After the storm, farmers warn...
• Local food security is crit-
ical because of T&T’s high
food import bill.
High market prices will hit
the pockets of thousands of
• No fields to work means no
employment for many.
Market prices before and after Bret
• Melongene has already gone up: $10 and $12 a pound.
• Ochros went up from $25 per 100 to about $50 per 100 wholesale and are being retailed at $30 for 20.
• Lettuce, before Bret, sold at $3 to $4 wholesale. After the storm: $8.
• Tomatoes was $8 a pound. Now up to $15
• The price of sweet peppers and some other crops dropped because farmers are reaping rain-damaged goods
which are still consumerable but have a short shelf life and selling them off at any price they get.
• Sweet peppers are selling at $5 and $6 a pound in the market.
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