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Agriculture and Lands Minister, Roger Clarke today (August 11) presented cheques totalling $100 million to the Coffee Corporation Limited and the Coffee Industry Board, to assist coffee farmers whose crops were affected by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
The cheques, which were handed over to the Chairman of the Coffee Corporation Ltd., St. Clair Shirley, and Director General of the Coffee Industry Board, Graham Dunkley, will be disbursed to more than 6,000 coffee farmers during the next three weeks.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, which was held at the Ministry’s Old Hope Road offices, Mr. Clarke explained that coffee farmers had not previously received assistance from the Government because it was anticipated that they would have been compensated by their insurer.
“The coffee farmers after their crops were damaged in 2004 following the passage of Hurricane Ivan, had expected to receive compensation from their insurance company based on the fact they have paid their premiums faithfully. They however ran into difficulties because Dyoll Insurance Company folded,” he elaborated.
Mr. Clarke said further that, “the coffee farmers were re-insured with Munich/Re of Germany and in the end the insurance company decided that they would make payments to the coffee farmers. However other competing claims were made and subsequent to that court action was taken, the liquidators however filed an appeal, so again after two years the coffee farmers got another setback”.
The Minister noted that of the $100 million, $60 million was an advance, pending the settlements of the coffee farmers insurance company and the remaining $40 million is a grant. Of this $40 million, $15 million will be allocated to low land farmers.
“The low land coffee farmers were not entitled to any insurance although they also suffered loses. We believe therefore that we could not only compensate the Blue Mountain coffee farmers and not them, so we have allocated $15 million to low land coffee farmers and $25 million to the Blue Mountain coffee farmers,” he explained.
The Agriculture Minister explained that the Ministry had decided to allocate a grant to coffee farmers in light of the severe setbacks that they had experienced.