Assistance for Farmers in Portland, St. Mary and Trelawny

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is to provide $100 million in support to farmers affected by the recent heavy rains in Portland, St. Mary and Trelawny.
  • Delivering a Statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 23), Mr. Samuda said the Ministry has, so far, provided $240 million in support to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to provide planting material and other inputs to farmers.
  • In the case of the Beet Army Worm, he noted that the Ministry provided $18 million to help farmers affected in Manchester and St. Elizabeth, adding that Cabinet only last week approved a $700-million programme to fight the Frosty Pod Rot cocoa disease over the next two years.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is to provide $100 million in support to farmers affected by the recent heavy rains in Portland, St. Mary and Trelawny.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, has explained that these three parishes experienced extreme flooding, not only causing agricultural damage of over $343 million but also significant infrastructure damage, such as farm roads.

Delivering a Statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 23), Mr. Samuda said the Ministry has, so far, provided $240 million in support to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to provide planting material and other inputs to farmers.

In the case of the Beet Army Worm, he noted that the Ministry provided $18 million to help farmers affected in Manchester and St. Elizabeth, adding that Cabinet only last week approved a $700-million programme to fight the Frosty Pod Rot cocoa disease over the next two years.

Meanwhile, Mr. Samuda said following a 13.5 per cent growth in the sector in 2016, agriculture experienced a 3.7 per cent decline in the first quarter of 2017, due to persistent drought conditions.

“As is well known, from April to the end of the year, we had almost continuous rain, with flooding in May and June. This resulted in second-, third- and fourth-quarter declines. Preliminary estimates indicate that we will have a decrease for the sector of about four per cent,” Mr. Samuda said.

“From June to October alone last year, direct crop and livestock losses amounted to over $300 million. The weather conditions not only caused losses in crops and livestock, but its continuous nature inhibited efforts at restoration, such as ploughing, land preparation and planting of certain crops,” he added.

Mr. Samuda also noted that the weather significantly impacted the latter part of the sugar-cane harvest, factory efficiency and the quality of the cane.

“This sector is dominated by a myriad of small players with small plots of land operating at the subsistence level, and without insurance. A responsible government has to respond with some kind of assistance,” he said.

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