Hurricane Maria, the Category Five storm that flattened Dominica on September 18, has destroyed the island’s agriculture sector, according to Caribbean News Now. Grenada ambassador to CARICOM, Patrick Antoine reported that agriculture in Dominica has “ceased to exist,” with most trees, including imperial palms, coconut palms, mango and breadfruit trees gone.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) – which is leading the Caribbean Community’s response to the disaster – and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) both said that there was 100 percent destruction of agriculture on the island. According to information released by UNOCHA, 25 per cent of the workforce in Dominica depends on agriculture.
CDEMA said there was “severe damage” to farm housing, irrigation and infrastructure, feeder roads as well as crop and livestock production, in addition to forests reserves and coastal fishery. Many feeder and farm roads are impassable resulting in loss of available food for both consumption and marketing. Loss of poultry and livestock were reported.
There were also reports of loss, damage or destruction of agricultural tools and infrastructure such as spades, forks, pruning shears, and greenhouses.
Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commissioner, and Grenada ambassador to CARICOM, Patrick Antoine, visited the island earlier this week and painted a dire picture of the situation there generally, and put agriculture in perspective. “Agriculture in Dominica, as we know it, now ceases to exist. I am not now talking about bananas; I am talking about … trees, horticultural aspects of the ecosystem as we know it to be in Dominica, the Nature Island… most of those have been destroyed,” he said at a press briefing on Tuesday. Imperial palms, mango, coconut and breadfruit trees, the perennials, are all gone, he reported.
“So for the first time, Dominica, is going to be facing, for the foreseeable future, unfortunately, a level of food insecurity that it hasn’t known before. And that is certainly something that has to be put before us. Our OECS Community and the broader CARICOM family now have to get together with Dominica … to see how we try, very urgently to see how we can rehabilitate agriculture going forward. Let me tell you that the hurricane left nothing untouched. The root crops have been covered by alluvial material – stones and sand – in a way that makes it indistinguishable. All of those things are now gone”, he said.