Heavy rainfall and strong winds have damaged agriculture fields on the island of Thoddoo in Alif Alif atoll, the country’s largest producer of watermelon.
Farmers on Thoddoo traditionally step up production ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin Saturday. Watermelon juice is a popular item for the fast-breaking meal and demand peaks in Malé during Ramadan.
Nooh Moosa, information officer of the Thoddoo island council, told the Maldives Independent that several fields were destroyed after heavy downpours on Sunday.
“These damages came as the farmers were preparing for Ramadan. Now, this brings unprecedented losses to them. The estimated loss is currently more than MVR1 million (US$64,850),” he said.
The papaya and watermelon fields sustained the biggest damage, he added, although some farmers also reported damages to betel leaf and cucumber fields.
“Even before the rain destroyed these fields, farmers had expressed concern about pesticides affecting the watermelon and papaya fields,” he said.
Nooh said the destruction of the farm fields has left farmers facing heavy financial losses after spending months preparing the harvest for the Ramadan market.
Online paper VFP meanwhile reported that about 1,500 papaya trees were destroyed on one field in Thoddoo.
Heavy rainfall in mid-May also caused damages to farm fields on the island of Kaashidhoo in Kaafu atoll, according to VFP.
The island of Feevah in Shaviyani atoll, also known for its agricultural produce, was spared damage from torrential rain but reported damage from sea swells two months ago.
Bad weather with the onset of the south-west monsoon in mid-May continues across the country with torrential rain, thunderstorms and rough seas.
The met office on Thursday morning issued a white alert for central and south-central atolls, warning of heavy rain and thunderstorms with a gust of 40 miles per hour.
On Wednesday, the Maldives National Defence Force said the number of incidents at sea reported to the coastguard has declined in the past three days. The MNDF reiterated advice for taking precautionary measures for sea travel, which traditionally increases ahead of Ramadan.
A bout of bad weather also caused damages in Malé earlier this week. A family of 18 people were temporarily displaced when a wall fell on their roof.
The rough winds also brought down several trees and a campaign poster of President Abdulla Yameen.
The southernmost atoll meanwhile suffered the heaviest damage so far after a tornado struck the Hithadhoo ward of Addu City last Wednesday, blowing off roofs and uprooting large trees.
The roofs of the 12 affected houses have since been repaired by the National Disaster Management Centre with help from the military and state-owned companies.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent