JIS News

The agricultural sector is set to benefit from some US$265,000 in hurricane recovery assistance following an agreement reached between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Roger Clarke, Minister of Agriculture and Dr. Donovan Robinson, FAO Representative to Jamaica, yesterday (Dec.15) signed the agreement for the disbursement of the funds, which will be used to finance two projects to identify income and employment generating initiatives, which conform to existing national development strategies and programmes.
Under the first project, Jamaica will receive US$65,000 of a sum of US$217,000, which will also be shared with Haiti and Grenada, to compile a damage assessment and framework planning report, which will serve as the basis for planning investment and other rehabilitation interventions.
A portion of the funds, the Minister said, would be used to prepare investment proposals, geared towards identifying priority areas for intervention, which could either be funded by the government, or could be used to mobilize grants and soft loans from multilateral and bilateral agencies.
Under the second project, entitled ‘Emergency Support to Farmers Affected By Hurricane Ivan in Jamaica’, a sum of US$200,000 will be allocated for the procurement of emergency inputs such as seeds, planting material, fertilizer and small agricultural tools for the most vulnerable farm households. This component, the Minister said, is scheduled to end in October 2005.
“Together, these FAO initiatives will facilitate the provision of expert technical assistance in economics, agriculture/horticulture, fisheries, engineering and investment, for restoring production and in the process the income of farmers, Mr. Clarke stated.
Both projects will be implemented by the Ministry, which will also be responsible for appointing and remunerating a national project coordinator for the entire duration of each project. Mr. Clarke said the Ministry would also be responsible for providing administrative and logistic support for the experts to be employed.
The Ministry will also contribute to the costs of the distribution, transportation and storage of inputs, as needed.
Meanwhile, Minister Clarke informed that preliminary assessments, following Hurricanes Charlie and Ivan, recorded estimated losses for exports totalling US$51.6 million and those for domestic crops and livestock amounting to approximately US$56.6 million. He said that a total of 11,130 hectares of crops have been damaged, with 117,600 farmers affected. Mr. Clarke said the extent of the hurricane damage was further highlighted by the 3.3 per cent decline in production for the period January to September of this year, as opposed to the 4.4 per cent growth for the same period of 2003.
“While the government has continued to do its very best to provide emergency assistance to alleviate the immediate hardships caused by the hurricanes, it is the much-needed financial contributions from numerous local and international agencies, which is truly facilitating longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction planning for the sector,” the Minister stated, noting that the FAO was one of the major contributors to the post hurricane rebuilding process.

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