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RADA’s advice to farmers for the rainy season

Published:Thursday | September 21, 2023 | 12:06 AM

Even as the country grapples with an extended drought, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is advising farmers to take the following steps in preparation for the major rainy season.

• Clear drains to reduce risk of flooding.

• Establish and/or maintain land husbandry structures: diversion ditches, head drains, water ways, contours, individual basins, gully plugs, etc, to reduce risk of soil erosion and slides.

• Make plans for rain water harvesting to prepare for the dry season.

• Reduce irrigation schedule to avoid water logging.

• Secure irrigation infrastructure. For flood-prone areas, consider removing water pump before rain. After a rain event, conduct thorough maintenance of drip irrigation system by flushing.

• Plan your crop cycle. Use raised beds in flood-prone areas. In the event of heavy rains, consider to harvest crop earlier to reduce losses.

• Avoid broadcast application of fertiliser. Consider burying it and/or apply in split applications.

Farmers are also encouraged to ensure that fertiliser and pesticides are stored in a safe and secure place not prone to flooding.

• Plan for emergency spill management to prevent environmental contamination.

• Maintain stock of pesticides to address any flare-ups without delays.

• Prolonged wet conditions favour development of fungal and bacterial diseases. Enter the rainy season with low levels of pests (especially diseases), which can rapidly spread under favourable conditions.

• It is wise to use systemic products before the onset of rains – to reduce pest population and at the ending of the rainy season.

• Avoid use of contact fungicide during rainy periods. Choice of products with systemic action will provide longer periods of protection. Banana and plantain farmers should consider using oil-based fungicide applications for control of black Sigatoka.

• If it rains just a few hours after pesticide application, do not respray immediately as some pesticide will remain on the crop. Apply the next cycle three-four days after. Add a commercial sticker to the pesticide mixture to improve retention.

• Manage weeds. They reduce field aeration, slow movement of rainwater out of the field, compete with your crops for nutrients, and harbour pests.

• Make plans for planting trees and the establishment of orchards as sufficient watering is critical for the first three months for a successful establishment.

In the event of heavy rains and risk of flooding, livestock farmers should make the following preparations:

• Clear drains to reduce risk of flooding.

• Consult the National Environmental Protection Agency on how to prevent overflow of these waste-treatment facilities into local streams, rivers, or even the drinking water supply. This as many farms operate manure pits and lagoons that are susceptible to flooding.

• Construct buildings for the storage of feed to prevent the feed from getting wet. Do not store feed with farm chemicals such as fertiliser, herbicides, and fuels to minimize chances of contamination.

• Make plans for stockpiling and replenishing emergency supplies, planning evacuation routes, and ensuring that equipment and vehicles are in proper working condition.

• Stockpile and replenish emergency building materials such as sandbags, plastic sheeting, and lumber.

If you are in a flash flood area, have several alternative routes to ensure rapid evacuation. If you have a large number of livestock, anticipate the course floodwaters might take. Start moving animals in advance of any danger.

• Ensure that animals are properly identified even if the evacuation turns out to have been unnecessary. At least you will have practised for the time when it might be.

• Have a way to keep animals safely confined while they are evacuated and living in a temporary setting.

• Store drinking water in jugs, bottles, and pans and be sure to include enough water for the animals in your household.

• Maintain your animal’s vaccinations against tetanus.