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Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, has welcomed the insurance product, GraceKennedy (GK) Weather Protect, which will provide coverage for farmers and fisherfolk impacted by adverse weather events.

The policy is being provided through GK Insurance and will protect the businesses of farmers and fishers against heavy rain, wind and drought.

Mr. Green, who was speaking at the virtual launch of the insurance scheme on Tuesday (July 20), said this new product “could not have come at a better time”, given the fact that the hurricane season has begun.

He pointed out that the impact of severe weather conditions has been a major challenge for the agricultural sector, noting that between 2004 and 2017, the sector suffered $196 billion in losses from weather-related events.

Mr. Green further noted that in October last year, there was a significant period of sustained rains that caused more than $2.5 billion in damage to crops across Jamaica, and affected 14,000 farmers.

“They (farmers) had to depend on the Government to find the resources to give them to start their agricultural enterprise again. While we were able to pull together over $600 million to get our farmers up and running, one of the realities is that a lot of the farmers had to wait for significant periods to get that support from the Government… [due to several factors],” he said.

He pointed out that this is where  the GK Weather Protect product could better serve farmers and fishers by providing an accessible, affordable and flexible insurance product that offers a quick payout.

“This is a big step in the right direction. I want to thank the team from GK Insurance. The coverage that they have put together can be done for a season, for multiple seasons, so you can decide, especially based on your on-the-ground knowledge, where you face the greatest risk, and insure to suit that profile,” the Minister said.

Mr. Green said he is pleased that Jamaica now has from the private sector “a truly affordable and accessible crop insurance scheme that will help to protect our farmers from the realities that they face because of our weather patterns”.

He encouraged farmers and fisherfolk to sign up for the policy,  adding that “it is always better we get no weather event but you’re insured than you get a weather event and you’re not insured”.

In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GraceKennedy Limited, Senator Don Wehby, said the policy is the latest in a series of initiatives under way within the GraceKennedy Group to support Jamaica’s agricultural sector.

“We are committed to Jamaica and we believe in investing in agriculture and supporting our farmers to ensure their financial success,” he said.

Mr. Wehby noted that Jamaica is vulnerable to disasters and, in particular, the effect of significant weather events on the agricultural sector and the livelihood of famers, stressing that “the implementation of disaster risk insurance for farmers is one method to mitigate the effects of natural disasters in the agricultural sector”.

“I firmly believe that insurance for our farmers is an investment, not a cost. This is the only way for Jamaica to rebound from the effects of adverse weather conditions with less impact on the economy, our farming community and the wider country,” he said.

Mr. Wehby added that he is pleased that this product from GK Insurance will help to fill a gap in the agricultural sector to provide more access to insurance for farmers and fishers.

Any registered farmer or fisherfolk in Jamaica will be able to purchase GK Weather Protect online, at GK locations or at Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) offices.

The policy was formulated in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and with the input of farmers and fisherfolk.

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