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Southern crops suffer significant damage in storm

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While it appears damages to Guam's infrastructure are minimal-to-none, and we're all breathing a huge sigh of relief since our community was spared from mother nature's wrath this time, your neighbors in southern Guam are justifiably concerned, as losses to crops are significant - putting a major dent into the livelihood of the island's agricultural sector.

While many of us escaped Tropical Storm Bavi unscathed, that is not the case for many of Guam's farmers. According to Talofofo mayor Vicente Taitague, several farms in God's Country were damaged, as he noted, "There's no flooding damage there's no home damage, like I said the only damage we have is the farmers and the banana plantation."

He brought us to one farm that produces everything from longbeans to eggplant and tomatoes, explaining, "As far as the extent of the damage it's about 30% of the plants are down on the ground, and when they came back this morning the put it up, make it stand up again so they would be able to salvage whatever they have."

Farmers put up branches to prop up several trees that were downed, while many vegetables on the farm were bruised and damaged. "Right now, we're looking it over to see if we can salvage what we have and if not we're going to go ahead and clear the field and replant."

This can cause a financial burden to farmers due to reduced production. Bill Reyes, a Talofofo resident who grows several fruits and vegetables, said he also experienced damage, although it was minimal. Department of Agriculture director Mariquita Taitague said her department will be assessing the damage; however, compensation will not be available to farmers unless the storm is declared a natural disaster by the governor. There is however a federal insurance program which does provide compensation.

"We have Farm Services here on Guam which is a federal program that you can buy insurance for your farm, because there are some farmers here who have bought insurance and will be compensated," he said.

If you are a commercial farmer registered with DOA, you are eligible for the program which is free of charge. Contact Farm Services in Tiyan at 300-8551/0 to learn more about the program.

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