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drought conditions on crops

Technical Advisory to Farmers During Drought Season

  • The RADA is issuing the following advisory to the farmers:
    During January/February 2024, the Parishes of Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew, St Thomas, Portland, St Mary, Trelawny and Hanover experienced meteorological drought conditions with long-term drought expected up to May 2024. These conditions are evolving in Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth, Manchester and Portland. Day and night temperatures are likely to be warmer-than-usual over most of the island.
    Farmers should at this time be on drought alert and have alternate water sources for on-farm activities. Remember February to April is the peak of the dry season.  
    Follow updates, especially from the Meteorological Service of Jamaica to protect your production/ rearing systems. The following information from RADA can also assist:
    Here are some Climate Smart Advisories for farmers on Drought Management:
  • As much as possible - use irrigation systems efficiently and economically and as resources permit e.g. gravity drip systems, small portable pumps, tanks for water storage (black tanks).
  • Irrigate in the early morning preferably. There is less chance of wind and lower evaporation rates.
    Do regular checks of your guttering systems to ensure that it is clear of debris to catch water from sporadic rainfall
  • Practice soil mulching with the aid of plastic or grass liners to retain soil moisture
  • Plant seeds in trays instead of direct seeding in order to use available water more efficiently.
  • Improve crop portfolio mix by planting drought- tolerant crops e.g. cassava, pineapple, sweet potato, gungo peas, ginger
  • Harvest from mature crops on time to reduce water and heat stress on plants 
  • Practice foliar fertilizer applications, control pests and weeds. 

For water retention- maintain land husbandry treatments such treatments as:

  1. Contour ditches,  
  2. Planting of crops along contour
  3. Individual basins 
  4. Planting cover crops and 
  5. Minimal soil tillage
  • Maintain wind-breaks around fields as this helps to reduce loss of water from the soil
  • Avoid any activity that could result in fires. Maintain fire banks to prevent rapid spread of bush fires. Desist from the slash and burn method of clearing lands at this time

For Livestock Farmers:

Providing Supplemental Feed (grains, hay) may be necessary

  • Supplemental minerals, vitamins or energy sources may be needed
  • Check animals regularly for illnesses and dehydration
  • Avoid overgrazing 

If you plan to feed drought damaged crops (eg. feed, forages) to livestock be aware of these issues:

  • Drought conditions can reduce the nutrient quality of forages and lower forage succulence and protein content
  • Dry forages are hard to digest
  • Drought can increase plant toxicities (eg. nitrates, mycotoxins) 

Farmers, be reminded to track local weather conditions using the Jamaica Weather App.

For farming advice or assistance contact your Agricultural Extension Officer, RADA Parish Office
Contact us at 1-888-ASK-RADA.
You can also request a farm visit by downloading the RADA Mobile App from Google Play Store
(Farmer ID number is required for making requests)

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