A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
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Thursday, July 08, 2004
Posted 4:43 PM by Luigi
Guam's agriculture devastated by storm
Article by Katie Worth, Pacific Daily News.
HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 7) - Less than two weeks ago, farmer Victor Duenas had almost 25 acres of watermelons, bananas, cucumbers and long beans on his Inarajan farm, ripening in the warm island air.
Now he has none.
He is one of dozens of farmers who lost 100 percent of their crops in last week’s torrential rains and island wide floods, a loss that will cost the island's farmers between $350,000 and $500,000, according to Guam Department of Agriculture estimates.
Agriculture Acting Director, Paul Bassler said his department estimates that every farmer on island lost more than 50 percent of their crops to Tropical Storm Tingting, which brought 16 inches of rain to the island in a single day last week. Many lost everything, he said.
"It was a serious blow to the farmers, no question," Bassler said.
Fortunately for Duenas, he is enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, also known as NAP. While the program won’t compensate farmers for the full cost of their loss, it should provide farmers with enough money to get back on their feet, said Tom Camacho of the USDA's Farm Service Agency.
The USDA’s assistance program has actually been in existence for many years, said Camacho, and is available to farmers in areas including Guam, where no farm insurance exists because of the frequency of disasters. However, only since 2002’s Typhoon Chata’an, has the program had much participation from Guam’s farmers.
The program, he explained, will compensate a farmer about 50 cents on the dollar for about half of his or her lost crop. In other words, it covers about 25 percent of the cost of the crop loss.
"The intent is not for them to recuperate 100 percent of the cost, it’s to help them recuperate at least enough to purchase seeds and fertilizers and such so they don't have to fork it out of their own pockets again," Camacho said.
The farmers are required to pay an annual $100 administrative fee per crop they plan to harvest, with a maximum cost of $300 each year, Camacho said. He explained that some farmers find the program difficult because it requires them to keep detailed records of their harvests, but in the end it's a worthwhile investment compared to the massive losses they could sustain.
At times in the past, the government of Guam has provided money to help farmers whose income has been devastated, but the Legislature did not appropriate money for that purpose after Supertyphoon Pongsona in December 2002, and has not this time. Camacho said the governor would have to first declare a disaster for the money to be appropriated.
In the meantime, Duenas and other farmers around the island have been working to clean up the mess that Tingting left in its wake.
Part of the loss was because the farmers were not warned about or prepared for the storm’s massive rainfall, Duenas said.
"I’ve been a farmer for 25 years in Inarajan. This is the first time in my life to see a rain that won’t stop like that," Duenas said. "The old-timers are saying that that happened before, way back in the days, but for me, it was the first time.
"And they don’t even warn us. I could have saved some banana there (by) bracing them, but there was no message from anybody."
He said that before he lost all his crops, he was producing enough to make several thousand dollars a month, but now he will be without income for the two to six months it will take him to recuperate his various crops.
Every other farmer he has spoken with, Duenas said, including his neighbor, who has an aquaculture farm, lost nearly everything.
"All the farmers are hurting right now," he said.
July 8, 2004
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
Copyright © 2004 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved
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