On the banks of Little River, an offshoot of the famous Black River in St Elizabeth, Howard Ricketts has been making a living planting crops like corn, okra, callaloo and cabbage for as long as he can remember.
This year, however, he believes that his profits will be slim as recent heavy rainfall caused the Little River to overflow its banks, killing his crops and those of other farmers.
“I spent a lot on this and I didn’t make it back. I lost a lot and that’s what I use to support my kids and my family. Even piece of the young peas that I plant just the other day, I have to pay the tractor to plough it. So, I lost roughly three acres of corn and around an acre of okra,” he said.
Ricketts estimates that he has lost approximately $1.5 million. After the heavy rainfall, the water level reached knee-high on Ricketts’ farm. He told THE STAR that the river is generally very predictable.
“It floods but mostly in October and November. That’s the time where we usually have a lot of water. In April here, you know we wasn’t looking for that,” he said, noting that the dry months are typically from December to March. Occasionally, that period last until April.
“We start plant by November, sometimes December. It’s all about the river. When it is coursing properly, we not gonna have this heavy flood every year,” he said.
As Ricketts mourns this financial losses, he says he has no other choice but to try and find odd jobs to support his family.
“I don’t know what to do, that’s what slowing me up right now. I don’t know where to turn. I’m thinking of looking some days work out there to patch up some things cause all of that would have been an asset to me if I didn’t lose it,” he said.
Ricketts is calling for the removal of dirt and debris, including fallen trees, from the river as he believes this has contributed to the flooding.