Photo: Huey Sargeant, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture on Nevis
Nevis Ministry of Agriculture issues safety guidelines to farmers ahead of impending inclement weather
NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS – The Ministry of Agriculture in Nevis issued a number of safety guidelines to farmers and fishers, urging them to take the necessary precautions to protect their property and livelihoods ahead of approaching Hurricane Irma.
Huey Sargeant, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, said their disaster plan was activated Sept. 1 at a meeting with various unit heads based on information from the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMO) of the weather system expected in the vicinity of St. Kitts and Nevis early next week. He announced some immediate changes within the Department of Agriculture as a result.
“The Abattoir will be suspending some operation,” he saids.”This weekend we will not be accepting any animals for slaughter, so please be aware.”
Sargeant also noted that on all farms under the management of the ministry greenhouses are being secured with the removal of side panels to allow wind to pass through. He urged private farmers who own greenhouses to do the same and release strings supporting plants in to ensure minimal damage of their crops. Farmers involved in egg production, Sargeant said, should ensure pens and birds are secure.
In the case of livestock farmers, they should stockpile at least a week’s supply of feed, hay and water for animals (approximately 150 gallons of water for a cow or horse). They should store feed and hay high above ground to avoid it getting wet and mouldy.
Farmers are advised to stock up on basic veterinary supplies such as bandages, topical antibiotics, electrolytes, vitamins and resistant equipment (halters and ropes). He recommended that before the storm or hurricane, they should also evacuate any animals from low-lying areas prone to flooding. They should secure barns and pens by nailing down any loose boards or roofing materials or strap them down to the ground and tying with rope.
Livestock farmers are also urged to place all equipment under cover and to turn off electrical power before landfall. Sheep, goats, rabbits and swine can be relocated to a garage before a hurricane and wooden pallets can be used as temporary pens there.
Large animals – cows and horses – should be turned loose into the pasture if farmers are unable to evacuate them. However, they should not go looking for animals during the passage of a hurricane. Instead, Sargeant said, they should wait until the all clear is given. They should also move cattle and small ruminants to higher ground.
Sargeant advised fishers to remove their boats from the water and secure them on land. He said veterinary service is advising that all pet owners should make every effort to secure their pets and ensure their safety.
In conclusion, he reminded farmers that they should keep an accurate record of their crops – the number of plants, acreage and the stage of production – so that in the event of damage, the ministry can conduct a proper and accurate assessment. Extension officers will be in the field, ahead of the anticipated inclement weather, to assist in this regard.