Cabbage, tomatoes and sweet pepper crops are under water tonight in Valley of Peace.  The scale of losses experienced by the farmers will not be clear until another couple days as flood waters remain high, making it difficult to assess the damage.  But what we know tonight is that every farmer suffered losses, with many experiencing one hundred percent damage to crops.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco went out to one of the farms today where farmers lost just about everything in the ground. It’s left to be seen what the impact will be on the local market, but early indications are that there could be some shortages for the different crops affected.  Here’s the story.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Farm lands in the Valley of Peace remain under several feet of water – below are thousands of vegetables rotting.  In this area, for example, that’s all farm lands covered by flood waters. This area has been under water for several days – and where the water has receded, those plants remain buried under thick mud. Like this patch of cabbage – battered and flattened by the floods. In this area alone, there are approximately sixty-thousand heads of cabbage destroyed by the floods.

Ever Blandon, Chairman, Valley of Peace Farmers Association

“The flooding was extremely high. As you can see, there is still water on the crops. This is a complete loss and this is not something that can be recovered. So, to the farmers we see everything is lost in these fields.  This is one of the biggest floods that I have ever seen.”

Andrea Polanco

“It covered all the crops to the back here?”

Ever Blandon

“Yes. I think it goes more than fifteen to twenty feet over the crops. So, it is a very huge flooding.”

The water is high and so farmers are still assessing their losses. As the country’s biggest cabbage producer, the Valley of Peace Farmers Association’s cabbage crop has been hit hard – almost wiped out. They expect to still be able to supply a small quantity to the markets – but does this mean a hike in price or imported cabbage for the local market?

Ever Blandon

“I can tell you that the crop that was most affected is cabbage – that’s the one that is affected.”

Andrea Polanco

“How many acres of cabbage did the farmers have planted in this area?”

Ever Blandon

“In this area, it was approximately sixty thousand plants that were in this area and we have more. In the other side we will have some cabbage for the market but not enough.”

Andrea Polanco

“Would that leave the country in the position to have to import?”

Ever Blandon

“Well, I can’t say right now but until we finish the survey we are doing right now. But it is a possibility that we may need to import some of the cabbage that the market will demand.”

The tomato and sweet pepper crops were also affected. Chairman of the Valley of Peace Farmers Association Ever Blandon says that with their crops wiped out – consumers may also see market shortages if other farming communities do not have large quantities in the soil.

Ever Blandon

“The second one is tomatoes. That one is very affected and I do know that Maskall lost a lot tomatoes. So, gathering all the information right now, I think tomato will get scarce on the market.”

Andrea Polanco

“A shortage Belizeans can expect?”

Ever Blandon

“Yes – a shortage, yes.”

Andrea Polanco

“You have one other crop affected?”

Ever Blandon

“Sweet pepper is the other one even though there were some in covered structure but still there was a lot of damage due to the flooding even though it was covered but the water got in from the sides. But still I think there would be a shortage if from the north they don’t have enough.”

The Valley of Peace Farmers Association says every member sustained losses – for some their entire fields were destroyed.  These flattened destroyed cabbage patch and tomato fields mean no money in the pockets of these farmers. Chairman Blandon they are worried about the tough times ahead. They need urgent help to get planting again – this is the second flood they have experienced in the span for a few months.

Ever Blandon

“To me it is a little worrying about how the association could help them to start over. As the relief from the government takes a little bit of time so it is very difficult for farmers about what has happened now. Right now, the thing is that the farmers have been suffering from one loss to another and so it is very difficult for them to start over immediately. So, for me, they need assistance as soon as possible. The thing is farmers have families and you know kids they ask for food and they don’t ask if there is money to buy food so it is a very hard moment for farmers.”

Channel 5