Agriculture Ministry Looks To International Partners In Recovery Effort

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, says discussions have been held with international partners, as he seeks assistance for the recovery of the sector in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Nicole.
Among the partners from which the Minister has sought support, are the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the European Union (EU), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“They have traditionally supported our initiatives in agriculture and in many instances they currently have programmes that we are involved in, in promoting best practices,” Dr. Tufton stated at a press conference this morning (October 6) at the Ministry’s Old Hope Road headquarters in St. Andrew.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, in an address to the House of Representatives yesterday said that preliminary estimates show $11.7 billion in losses as a result of the flood rains, with just over $1 billion attributed to the agriculture sector.
The parishes that were hardest hit are St. Mary, St. Elizabeth, Portland, Clarendon and Westmoreland.
Minister Tufton said that just over $500 million in domestic food production was lost between September 28 and 30. “In terms of mature crops, meaning those just about ready for reaping for the (September) quarter, you are looking at about 12 to 15 per cent of losses,” he noted.
He informed that the crops that were most severely affected include cantaloupe, melon, cabbage, lettuce, tomato, and sweet pepper. “Cabbage for example, we lost 142 hectares across the country; carrot, 148 hectares; cucumber, 180 hectares; tomato, 136 hectares; and sweet pepper, 126 hectares,” he said.
In addition, 30 greenhouses were affected at an estimated cost of some $12 million.
Losses of livestock are estimated at $30 million, with backyard chicken operators losing approximately 150,000 birds during the two days. Damage to farm roads is projected at just over $500 million.
Minister Tufton said that the Ministry has taken a decision to “reallocate where we can, funds that exist currently for specific programmes and taking advantage where we can of any additional funds that can be made available,” to get production going.
He noted that the Government is taking a holistic approach to the recovery process and will be collaborating with various ministries including the Finance and the Public Service, Transport and Works, “in a definitive way, to chart a course for recovery and for restoration of normality.”
Tropical Storm Nicole dumped rain between 10 to 20 inches of rainfall across the island, resulting in extensive flooding in most parishes.

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