Assistance for Banana Farmers in Portland


Banana farmers in Portland who suffered losses as a result of Hurricane Dennis in 2005, should begin receiving assistance under the Hurricane Dennis Rehabilitation Programme on Monday, April 16.
At a meeting of banana farmers in the parish at the Boundbrook Wharf in Port Antonio on April 11, Clifton Wilson, Special Projects Co-ordinator for the Banana Export Company (BECO), said the assistance would be given based on the losses per hectare experienced by each farmer.
Under the programme, a total of $122 million has been made available by the European Union (EU) to provide inputs to assist affected farmers across the country to resuscitate their farms in light of the fall out caused by the hurricane.
A total of 303 farmers in the parish will benefit from the programme, all of whom were presented with letters detailing the type of inputs they will be receiving in their packages.
Mr. Wilson told the farmers that they would be required to repay 20 per cent of the cost of the assistance, adding that 12 per cent of that amount would be deposited in a Catastrophe Fund to be used to assist with the rehabilitation of the banana industry in case of disaster.
He explained that the distribution would be carried out on a district by district basis, and implored the farmers to make every effort to collect their supplies personally, failing which they should make arrangements with persons with proper identification to do so on their behalf.
Mr. Wilson commended the farmers for the resilience they displayed after the hurricane, and urged them to use the assistance in the best way possible, in order to enable the banana industry to continue to play a pivotal role in the agricultural sector.
Also addressing the meeting were: Vincent Thompson, Project Manager for the Banana Investment Fund, who exhorted the farmers to give full support to the Catastrophe Fund; and Janet Conie, Director of Research at BECO, who urged the farmers to conform to the standards required by the European market, to ensure the continued exportation of bananas to that market.
Meanwhile, farmers attending the meeting told JIS News that they were appreciative of the assistance they would be receiving, adding that it would go a far way to enable them to improve and increase production.

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