IICA’S rapid response team delivers supplies to affected farmers in Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas, October 28 (IICA). A rapid response team led by Shacara Lightburne, IICA’s representative for Bahamas, has contributed to assist farmers on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

IICA’s team has visited the affected areas three times and supervised the distribution of supplies purchased under IICA’s Rapid Response Action project between October 22nd-25th. During this visit, approximately 30 farmers from Abaco and 8 farmers in Grand Bahama received such supplies as drip irrigation tape, lay flat hoses, seedlings, promix (potting soil), seeds, animal feed, seedling trays and fertilizer bags.

“In the first visits, the area was pretty much empty”, said Lighburne. “Many farmers fled after the initial aftermath of the hurricane due to the shock and unlivable conditions.  Thankfully, many of them are returning, have started cleaning and clearing their land and with a little encouragement and help, many of them will be in full production mode again”.

Farmers on both Grand Bahama and Abaco were completely devastated by the loss of income and livelihoods due to severe flooding with saltwater, wind damage and destruction of tourist infrastructure.

The expected results of the rapid response action are procurement and supply of inputs, tools, small equipment and seeds for on-farm and related activities, a program of capacity building interventions to facilitate rehabilitation and to build resilience to agricultural risks and disasters, and documentation of lessons learned towards medium to longer term interventions in the affected areas.

More supplies will be delivered to The Bahamas’ farmers in November 2019 with more focus on beekeepers and livestock producers.

The team consisted of Andrew Pinder, Assistant Director, Department of Agriculture; Josefina Curry, Agriculture Officer in Abaco; Dr. Michele Singh, CARDI; Dr. Chaney St. Martin, Soil and Water Management specialist, IICA Trinidad and Tobago and Craig Thomas, technical specialist at IICA in Antigua and Barbuda.  Both IICA specialist were instrumental in past responses for Hurricanes Maria and Irma that took place in Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda and brought a wealth of experience to Lightbourne’s team.

The vegetable packing house for Five Star Ag and Turf on Abaco, which covered 60% of the national market of sweet pepper and tomatoes in Bahamas was destroyed, along with the largest poultry producer in the country, Abaco Big Bird, she added. Many jobs were lost from these operations alone and is a huge blow to the food security goals of the country.

Some are gradually going back to the affected areas to reclaim their lifestyles, and they are optimistic and open to interventions in climate smart resilient agriculture and good agricultural practices, said Lightbourne.

The IICA office in The Bahamas will continue implementation of the Rapid Response Action in collaboration with select IICA offices in the region, the Department of Agriculture of Bahamas, FAO and CARDI.  The second intervention phase will include training and exploration of external funding to make a dent in the mammoth task of recovering the agriculture sector on Abaco and Grand Bahama.    

Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Bahamas as a Category 5 on September 1st.  At least 58 people died and thousands lost their homes.

About IICAIICA is the specialized agency for agriculture in the Inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34 Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.