JIS News

As of next week, the government will begin issuing $220 Million worth of agricultural stamps to farmers and fishermen whose livelihood have been affected by the passage of hurricane Ivan. Prime Minister P.J. Patterson made the disclosure in Maroon Town on Friday (Oct. 1), during a tour of hurricane ravaged communities in the parishes of St. James and Hanover.
He said the stamps would enable farmers to purchase fertilizers, planting material including seeds and young plants as well as other necessary supplies. He noted however that the farmers would have to take responsibility for the clean up of their fields.
Mr. Patterson said the value of the stamps would be dependent on the extent of loss suffered by each affected farmer and pointed out that a list of distributors and price range for the respective items would be published so that farmers would have an idea of what the value of their stamps can purchase.
The Prime Minister also noted that despite the reduction in stamp duty on some food items, importers still require a permit in order that the volume of imports can be regulated. Mr. Patterson said this was to ensure that when production in the farming sector returns to pre-Ivan level there was not a glut in the market.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister said it was still too early to determine how much money would be required for the islandwide reconstruction effort as the assessment of the damage caused by the hurricane was still ongoing. He said that while the National Housing Trust has pledged $400 Million to the housing relief effort, the national reconstruction programme would require a substantially greater sum.
Among the communities visited by the Prime Minister was Tangle River in St. James where a major land slippage has resulted in the destruction of the roadway, two houses and a basic. Three other houses in the community are marooned and are also in danger of collapsing. Over in Chigwell in Hanover, several houses are still marooned by flood water and instructions have been given for the health authorities to commence vector control activities in the area. In the meantime, arrangements have been made for the provision of relief items for the affected residents of the community.

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