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  • Cabinet has approved another $95 million to provide assistance to the agricultural sector in the wake of severe drought conditions which affected the island from January to July of this year.
  • Of the sum, $50 million is to be spent immediately, while the remainder is to be used during the first quarter of the 2015 calendar year.
  • Of the initial $50 million, $30 million will be spent on the resuscitation of farms which suffered losses as a result of the drought.

Cabinet has approved another $95 million to provide assistance to the agricultural sector in the wake of severe drought conditions which affected the island from January to July of this year.

Of the sum, $50 million is to be spent immediately, while the remainder is to be used during the first quarter of the 2015 calendar year.

Acting Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, made the announcement on September 30, at the launch of the National Irish Potato Expansion Programme, at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens headquarters in Kingston.

Of the initial $50 million, $30 million will be spent on the resuscitation of farms which suffered losses as a result of the drought, in the parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary, St. Thomas, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, St. James, Manchester and Westmoreland.

Mr. Kellier outlined that the major crops targeted are corn, red peas, pak choi, cauliflower, sweet and hot pepper, cantaloupe, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomato, lettuce, string bean and cabbage.

Under the project, which will be managed by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), 500 farmers have already been identified for support with material, fertilizer, and land preparation.

RADA will also provide assistance to 38 members of the Jamaica Greenhouse Growers Association for the excavation of reservoirs and the installation of pond liners to store water, that will be harvested from the roof of their greenhouse.

“This support goes beyond recovery of these farmers, and will put them in a position to withstand any future droughts. Each of these beneficiaries would have had sufficient storage for continuous production in a 6,000 square foot of greenhouse space for up to four months,” the Minister noted.

He emphasized that the Government’s response is not only aimed at saving crops, but also boosting the sector’s capacity.

“This initiative must therefore be viewed in the context of the Ministry’s thrust to ensure the sustainability of increased productivity in order to increase export, drive growth, create employment, and reduce imports,” he said.

In an early intervention strategy, the Government had previously distributed $33 million in input supplies to assist farmers affected by the drought, particularly in St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Portland and St. Mary.

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