Farmers from Chatham are crying out for help as swarms of locusts continue to feed off vast acreages of crops in the southwestern peninsula.
While the Ministry of Agriculture awaits funds to fix a wheel tractor used to spray the insects, farmers say they are losing thousands of dollars in crops.
Farmer Rishi Ramroop of Southern Main Road, Chatham said the swarm was so thick that within the space of a few days they gnawed away several acres of cassava, bodi, plantain and carailli."
Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon, has presented two new cocoa standards to The University of the West Indies (UWI) which were developed by the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS), intended to improve the quality of locally produced cocoa beans.
The handover took place at The UWI during the Cocoa Research Centre’s (CRC) Annual Research and Development Symposium.
According to Gopee-Scoon, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is committed to supporting downstream agro-processing as a form of economic diversification.
The locusts which hatched in the forests of Mora last November have grown into fully-fledged locusts and are now attacking agricultural estates in the southwestern peninsula.
Teams are now struggling to deal with the pests and residents say swarms are entering their yards and houses.
When Guardian Media visited the scene, thousands of locusts were seen flying in the air.
The sounds of their wings could be heard if you listened carefully.
The Agricultural Society has started work on an irrigation project that helps make more water available to farmers, in the face of a harsh dry season that threatens to affect food prices.
The Orange Grove Agricultural Project is a joint venture between the society and the Ministry of Works.
President of the Agricultural Society, Dhanoo Sookoo, has said while the Ministry of Works provided the infrastructure, much of the project which began in January has been financed by farmers.
Fishermen in the southwestern peninsula say massive quantities of sargassum seaweed is hampering their ability to fish.
The seaweed is so bad that some fishermen have anchored their boats and have not ventured out to the ocean in over three weeks.
When Guardian Media visited the area on Wednesday, the foul-smelling weeds lined the Icacos beach where dozens of boats were anchored.
President of the Icacos United Fishermen Association Gary Edwards said as many as 800 fishermen were affected.
Locusts have descended on farms in the southwest peninsula, ravaging crops and vegetation.
The worst hit areas include Bowen Trace, Chatham and Austin South Trace.
Teams from the Ministry of Agriculture have been taking photographs and reports of the damage. However, sources say the lone crop dusting tractor is down so spraying of the insects is not possible.
Pineapple farmers who have chopped down more than 300 acres of forest reserve in Tableland are expected to be charged by the police following investigations, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat confirmed yesterday.
Rambharat himself has also launched a probe into “the complete failure of the Forestry Division to combat squatting in the forest reserves.”
In an interview with the T&T Guardian, Rambharat said he was appalled at the forest destruction.
Thick Saharan dust which blanketed T&T last weekend has caused hardship for scores of people suffering from asthma and sinus but for agriculturalists, the dust has been welcomed as free natural fertilizer.
Heavy rains put a damper on spraying operations at agricultural estates near Bunsee Trace, Penal on Tuesday as farmers continue to grapple with crop losses from an infestation of locusts.
The locusts, which are about a centimetre in length, have been gobbling fields of cassava, peas, ochroes and bodi near the forests of Morne Diablo.
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said spraying started since Sunday.
However, residents of Penal Rock said not all the areas are being covered.