THE Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) Division of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries has warned that cow itch season is in full swing with the onset of the Dry Season.
The Department, in a press release issued yesterday, said that the cow itch advisory was issued following a spate of incidents in Tobago involving the irritant which is derived by direct physical contact with the pod of the tree Mucuna pruriens.
In view of the spate of cow itch problems experienced thus far in this dry season and during previous dry seasons, this Advisory informs on control measures of the species and cautions the public about the itching effects of the pubescent/hairs on the mature pods, the release stated.
Cow itch can be controlled through the following means: diligent and manual clearing/cutlassing of the vines especially, in the wet season before the fruits/pods mature or ripe; spraying the species with a broad leaf herbicide e.g. roundup, during early morning or late afternoon when the weather is neither hot nor windy;
Clearing the species with an air-tight and air-conditioned machine e.g. a Bacho loader or excavator; all the seeds should be thoroughly burnt to prevent their germination and further dispersal.
Note that light fires may scarify Cow itch seeds and cause them to germinate faster.
However, if a person feels compelled to burn Cow itch during the Fire season (December 1st in one year to June 30th the next year), such person should apply for a Fire Permit from any Fire Station or through a Fire Guardian before setting any such fire in Trinidad and Tobago.
Another advisory from the Department dealt with fire and advised that to avoid a spate of bush fires throughout the island, the Division is hereby reminding the public that any one who wishes to start a fire other than for domestic purposes must apply for, and obtain a Fire Permit.
The Fire Permit which can be obtained with the help of the District Fire Guardian at the Fire Stations in Scarborough and Roxborough, costs only ten dollars.
The penalty for contravening the Agricultural Fires Act, according to the advisory is a fine of $1,500 and/or six months imprisonment.
Moreover, in the event of a Wild Fire persons should contact: Hotline 211; the Fire Services Department at -990; TEMA at 660-7489 and the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at 660-2079/639-2273.