State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Ian Hayles, has said Hurricane Sandy has dealt a devastating blow to the country’s agricultural sector, with the latest estimates putting the cost of the damage at close to $2 billion.
Mr. Hayles, who spoke to JIS News following a tour of several farms in Portland yesterday (October 29), said that close to 31,000 farmers across the island have been affected.
"Some 3,000 hectares of property… across the country, $15 million in livestock losses, and we have some problem with coffee in areas of upper St. Andrew and in the valley of Portland also," he said.
He said that in Portland alone, damage to farms and livestock is estimated at approximately $200 million, affecting over 6,000 farmers and more than 500 hectares of property.
"We have a lot of work to do, the Ministry is being proactive in terms of what we will do over the next couple of weeks," he said.
While in Portland, the State Minister, along with Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) officials, saw firsthand, the extent of damage to crops and livestock, including banana, coconut, papaya, and poultry.
Papaya farmer, Bryon Henry, informed that he suffered some $8 million in damages. He informed that as a result of the storm, several workers had to be laid-off, “as right now the cash flow has been completely wiped out."
Mr. Henry, who farms on some 12 acres of land, said resuscitation of the crop is estimated to take some six months.