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The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has partnered with GK Insurance to introduce the Parametric Rain, Drought and Wind Insurance Policy for the agricultural sector.

The policy aims to support the resilience of farmers and fisherfolk.

This was stated by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, while providing an update on the sector in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (September 22) following the passage of tropical storms Grace and Ida. The tropical storms severely impacted the sector during the month of August.

Minister Shaw informed that the Ministry, in supporting the introduction of the insurance policy, has provided $5 million to incentivise farmers and fisherfolk to subscribe to the parametric crop and livestock insurance scheme.

He said the funds will be used to subsidise the initial premium for the first 1,000 farmers who sign up for the GK Weather Protect Insurance coverage.

Minister Shaw noted that for the 1,000 farmers, a sum of $3,500 each will be allocated for the first 700 males and $5,000 each for the first 300 females and youths below the age of 29.

He said the agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable to the impact of weather-based disasters, with severe weather conditions generally being a major challenge.

Minister Shaw said the immediate recovery of the sector, post the August 2021 tropical storms, is crucial, especially since the sector accounts for 7.1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, contributes approximately 15.2 per cent of the country’s employment, and directly impacts the livelihood of approximately 218,000 registered farmers, of which approximately 32 per cent are women.

Providing a breakdown of the impact of the weather systems on the sector, Mr. Shaw noted that in respect of the crop subsector, some 4,594.8 hectares of crops valued at approximately $1.7 billion were lost, impacting some 17,000 farmers.

The most significant crop losses were vegetables, plantain, banana and yam, followed by condiments, fruits and Irish potato, with an estimated value of $1.5 billion.

He said the livestock subsector also experienced severe damage with losses of approximately 87,463 animals, affecting 3,577 farmers islandwide and estimated losses amounting to $60.8 million.

Poultry (broilers and layers) also suffered significant loss of 79,473 animals valued at $23.1 million.

Other impactful losses include 42 beef cattle valued at $14.5 million; 906 goats valued at $10.2 million; 280 apiculture colonies valued at $7.3 million; and 736 pigs valued at $4.7 million.

He said there was also significant damage to infrastructure, including road and irrigation networks, protected structures, greenhouses and catchments.

“From the preliminary damage assessment, the extent of the road and infrastructure damage was valued at approximately $150 million. The worst affected parishes were St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary and St. James.  St. Ann, Manchester, St. Elizabeth and St. Catherine also reported significant damage,” he stated.

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