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Dec 4, 2020

Over 300,000 Heads of Cabbage Wipe Out by Flood in Valley of Peace

Tonight we head to Valley of Peace where we revisit the Valley of Peace Famers Association to find out how they are doing after the devastating flood last month.  You’ll recall in the second week of November, we showed you the rising waters that covered the fields and at the time, while they knew they had suffered massive losses, they just didn’t know to what extent.  Well, now the water is just about gone and the farmers are left behind to pick up the pieces.  But tonight they say it is tough and they are appealing to the government for help.  They say, though, that they don’t expect a handout and would like to see low interest loans being made available for farmers affected by the floods. Reporter Andrea Polanco has the story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Valley of Peace Farmers Association is still reeling from losses suffered as a result of the flood last month. They have completed their assessments of the fields – and their numbers show that more than one hundred acres of crops were wiped out. This includes three hundred thousand heads of cabbage, thirty-six thousand tomato plants and eight thousand sweet peppers.

 

Ever Blandon

Ever Blandon, Chairman, Valley of Peace Farmers Association

“In cabbage, we have about twenty-two acres. We are talking about three hundred and forty thousand plants in different stages that got flooded and completely lost. In tomato we have nine acres and in sweet pepper we had two acres also. There many other losses for different crops but those were minimal. In total we have about one hundred and twenty two acres of crops that were damaged.”

 

While it’s a tough loss – it is also the biggest they have suffered to date as a result of flooding. There are some farmers who have returned to the soilto sow seedlings to kick start their livelihoods. They also have a few crops almost ready for harvest.  But Ever Blandon says not all farmers have that opportunity. Some farmers have had to abandon farming and seek employment outside of the community. This is bad news for the farmers and consumers alike – after all, the Valley of Peace Farmers Association that’s made of sixty families is the country’s largest cabbage producer. And currently, Blandon says they simply cannot supply the market.

 

Ever Blandon

“It’s a difficult time for farmers. We have stated to do seedlings. Some farmers have gone to work outside because they cannot continue farming and they have to bring food for their families. Some farmers are continuing to plant and we have seedlings right now that we will plant in the next few weeks.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“But I imagine you guys still don’t have the quantities to plant that the market requires?”

 

Ever Blandon

“Yes that is right. The quantity, I think it is half of the amount that the market demands because in that way you can see the price gone up and I think they will need to import some to fill the market.”

 

Blandon says that while the Ministry of Agriculture has conducted assessments – this kind of help takes too long to reach the farmers and so he is asking for low interest loans to be made available to farmers so that they can get back to planting.

 

Ever Blandon

“The assistance of the farmers sometimes takes a little bit long and sometimes never reaches. Some farmers lost in the flooding in June and there are still some who didn’t get anything from that. What I think that is that not everything comes free but I would ask that government to look for some low interest loans for farmers so that they can start planting.”

 

In this area of the farm lands, this is what it looked like over two weeks ago. Water covered everywhere and we couldn’t even walk here. Today – that water has receded and it’s accessible. But the soil is still waterlogged and the only other evidence of the destruction that passed through these fields is bits and pieces of rotting crops left behind. It’s a long road ahead for the farmers to get back on their feet yet, they remain hopeful – but as Blandon points out they will not be able to supply the quantity nor the quality that the Belizeans expect from the Valley of Peace crops.

 

Ever Blandon

“What we could see is almost nothing. Not even grass for the cows you could see there. From the cabbage you can’t find nothing – tomatoes worse because all was washed away. There is nothing.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“I imagine it will take the farmers some time to get the soil ready for crops?”

 

Ever Blandon

“We are still waiting for the soil to get dry right now still water is running in some ditch there and it will take a while but we are hoping to have a lee window to do our land preparation.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What are you expectations for those crops – will they be the quality of crops you have always gotten or do you think the flooding is going to have an impact on these new crops?”

 

Ever Blandon

“Definitely they will not be the best crops that we used to harvest or have here. But we are hoping in God that he will give us the wisdom to do what we have to do to have the best crop.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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