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Approximately 1,000 plantain and banana farmers are set to benefit from the provision of fertilizer and insecticide, under the European Union Banana Support Programme (EUBSP), valued at $13.5 million.

The official handing over ceremony for the funds was held on January 30 at the Banana Boxing Plant, in Trinity, St. Mary.

Addressing the function, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, pointed out that the damage to banana farms as a result of Hurricane Sandy on October 24, 2012 in the parishes of St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas amounted to 93 per cent, 96 per cent and 100 per cent, respectively.

“The level of damage is estimated to cost about $1.1 billion to rehabilitate the farms, community farm roads and drainage networks were all impacted,” Mr. Clarke said.

As part of the support package, approximately 2,500 bags of fertilizer and 3,750 sachets of insecticide will be available to 1,000 legitimate registered banana and plantain farmers in the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland and St. Mary who are registered with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Banana Board.

Beneficiaries should also be verified active farmers and suffered damage to approximately two hectares and upwards. They are selected based on damage assessment carried out by the Banana Board.

“It is anticipated that distribution of the materials will commence on January 31 and will be managed by the RADA parish offices in the affected banana producing belt,” Mr. Clarke said.

“In order to collect input supplies, farmers must present documentation to verify registration with RADA as well as a notification letter issued by the Banana Board, stating their eligibility and the quantities of input supplies to be received,” he added.

Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amadei, said the European Union had long recognised the importance of agriculture to the wellbeing of the Jamaican people.

She added that the banana industry has been a pillar of Jamaican agriculture and economy, noting that the EU has been funding the sector since 1996.

“The objective of this intervention is to provide support to these communities to get back to pre-hurricane Sandy production level, while decreasing the time of recovery. We know that this support will be far from sufficient to facilitate an easy recovery from the hurricane, but it has to be kept in mind that this will come in addition to the existing Banana Catastrophe Fund that was also established with the support of the EU,” Ambassador Amadei said.