JIS News

Farmers in Clarendon, who were affected by Hurricane Ivan last September, are to receive vouchers valued at $9.78 million to purchase necessary farm inputs.
Parish Manager for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Percival Shaw told JIS News that $7.98 million in assistance would be provided to poultry farmers, with 2,280 vouchers valued at $3,500 each to be disbursed to them.
In addition, 347 vegetable farmers will receive vouchers valued from $2, 090 to $5,300, for a total benefit of $1.8 million.
According to Mr. Shaw, the vouchers to poultry farmers were redeemable at farm stores for feed medication and chickens, while the vegetable farmers could exchange their vouchers for cabbage and carrot seeds, chemicals and spray equipment.
The effort to assist farmers across the island is being coordinated through the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR), which was established by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson immediately after the hurricane, to co-ordinate the national recovery and reconstruction efforts.
Mr. Shaw mentioned that RADA was also distributing benefits to crop farmers through assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Some 600 farmers in Clarendon are expected to benefit.
“The assistance will be in the form of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and small farm tools. We hope to have this spread across the parish and that it will help the farmers in a meaningful way,” he said.
He also pointed to assistance to come from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Jamaica Business Recovery Programme.
“We have consultants in the field now visiting the farmers and getting information for this benefit to start going to them. This investigative phase will also determine how soon farmers will begin to benefit. The aim of this programme is to increase productivity among the farmers,” Mr. Shaw noted.
Meanwhile, the RADA officer commended the Clarendon farmers for their efforts to return to production quickly after the hurricane, especially as the parish was one of the most severely hit. “The farmers are really back into production because already, we have experienced a glut on the market with some vegetable crops,” he pointed out.
Donavan Richardson, a 28-year-old small farmer from the Raymonds district in southeast Clarendon, who has been farming poultry and other livestock for the past seven years, told JIS News that he was grateful for the help.
“My mother has died for about eight years now and so I’m the breadwinner for the family, with five others following me and I’m very thankful to RADA for the assistance. I never had anything else to start back and this can give me a good start back. I’m starting with my broiler chickens,” he said.
Mr. Richardson lost about 150 broiler and layer chickens, four pigs and three goats in the hurricane.

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