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Extreme weather conditions lead to shortages of fresh produce on Barbados

Extreme weather conditions in Barbados, including extreme heat, have led to shortages of local produce and subsequent price hikes. Chief Agricultural Officer Keeley Holder is optimistic that farmers' yields will rebound in the coming months, addressing the increased demand for the Christmas season.

The unusual weather conditions in 2023 have impacted the growth of sweet potatoes, which are typically resilient. Additionally, the extreme heat has had a devastating impact on yams, resulting in reduced yields. Holder acknowledges that farmers, expecting a particular yield, have faced challenges due to climate impacts, leading to lower returns on investment and subsequent price increases.

Despite the challenges, Holder anticipates a rebound in yields leading up to Christmas. She notes that in November, there is already a rebound in the availability of tomatoes. Shortages of beans were observed as far back as September, and certain crops like chives were heavily impacted in September and October, but there is a rebound in these as well. Cucumbers and butternut squash have reportedly weathered the extreme weather conditions relatively well.

However, some crops have faced challenges. There has been a dip in sweet peppers, and lettuce has been impacted by the heat, causing it to grow tall quickly (bolt). Farmers have responded by harvesting lettuce earlier, resulting in smaller heads.

Earlier reports from the Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) and the President of the Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors, and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN) suggested that significant weather events continued to negatively impact the agriculture sector. They predicted that shortages of crops and other produce would extend into the Christmas season.


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