Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Urges Farmers to Focus on Disaster Management


Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, has said that while crop insurance is critical to the agricultural sector, individuals need to play a proactive role in their approach to disasters.
Speaking at a technical workshop on Weather Risk Management Strategies for the Agricultural Sector, at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on Thursday June 18, Mr. Stanberry said that, even though the Government is playing its part in redirecting and re-prioritising its budget whenever a disaster strikes, stakeholders need to take a concerted approach in its management.
“The reality is, I don’t know that that approach is sustainable. I think (a) better approach is to be a little proactive. I think we have to re-emphasise and preach and teach, in a sustained way, the necessity of mitigation, of re-orientating our cultural practices in agriculture,” he said.
He noted that this is of utmost importance, given the location of the island and the fact that, whenever a natural disaster strikes, the sector faces the prospect of having all its gains, or a significant portion of its gains, wiped out.
“If we look on a graph of production and super impose on that graph all these weather episodes, there is a clear correlation between production (and disasters) and production tends to be generally down when we have these. It, therefore, tells us that the single greatest threat to agriculture in this country is, perhaps, disasters,” he added.
Mr. Stanberry suggested that all stakeholders should find creative ways to reduce the damage sustained during and after natural disasters.
He recalled that during Hurricane Dean, in 2007, consultations were held with greenhouse farmers on the way they constructed their facilities, in an effort to minimise the damage sustained. He said that after those consultations, the greenhouses were designed in a way that the sides could be removed whenever there are hurricanes, to minimise the risk.
The Permanent Secretary also suggested that vulnerable crops should be planted in areas where, historically, the impact of hurricanes has been less.
“We have to do those things and, in that context, I think we might come to a stage where we might have to look at crop zoning and create a culture of mitigation,” he said.
He added that a collaborative approach should be taken to mitigate weather risk factors within the sector, while commending all the stakeholders in the process.
The workshop was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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