Guam- The Department of Agriculture has been notified of several farmers that are facing a major loss of their crops because of the record breaking heavy rains, wind and flooding that began since Thursday last week.
In fact, Director Marquita Taitague says for some farmers, 100% of their crops have been destroyed.
“When there is so much water and after the water subsides and the sun comes out, then most likely all the plants will just die,” said Taitague.
She mentions the loss of fresh produce has already impacted many retailers that buy local.
“Starting this week, there’s nothing on the shelves I’m sure, unless, those people that have farms on higher ground,” remarked Taitague. “But even that you know, the rain and the wind, it probably affected theirs too.”
Taitague believes recovery time for farmers is projected between a month to three months, depending on the crop being harvested. PNC also asks if farmers are insured when flooding or other disasters occur.
“Not every farmer is under this program, insured with the farm services, because some people feel it takes a lot of work…paperwork to compile and then you have to pay a premium,” added Taitague.
As a successful local farmer herself, Taitague notes she is insured. Although it doesn’t cover her expenses 100%, she says it’s enough to at least get her started again.
Local farmer Candy Santos is the sister of Taitague. She, along with her brothers Tommy and Luis Flores, have experienced a total loss of crops at their Talofofo property.
“If you look around, you can see,” said Santos. “We had opu. They’re all down on the ground. We had bitter melon. They’re all down on the ground. Our cucumber is all underwater, so is the beans, okra and egg plant.”
PNC toured part of the saturated six acre site where various produce and more than half of their papaya plants were destroyed. She says they cannot harvest their crops anymore.
“We’d like for the sun to come out so we can start all over again,” said Santos. “That’s all we can do. Start all over again.”
Prior to the heavy rainfall, Santos recalls harvesting over a thousand pounds of cucumbers and two baskets of long beans. Her produce is supplied to many retailers and schools.
“Yes, Pay-Less store, commissary, and then we also provide cucumber to the schools,” said Santos. “We go via that one co-op, IDI.”
While she is dealing with the flooding aftermath, her advice to other farmers is to insure their crops.
“If they have a big farm like ours, or even go to the farm agency and they’ll insure your crop,” said Santos. “Then that way, you’ll feel better when a disaster comes around. Then you got something to fall back cause that’s what I did.”
Santos says she continues to look on the bright side of things. She has some money coming in from the produce she already sold and she is focused on clearing the property to begin planting. She estimates it will take about 6 weeks until they can harvest their crops again.
“I know that we’re going to get back again,” said Santos. “Maybe do better. We can’t complain. We know the risks that we take. You have to think that way. Otherwise, you’re not in this field.”
Farmers needing help in their recovery efforts are asked to contact the Guam Department of Agriculture and the Farmer’s Cooperative Association of Guam.