JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Errol Ennis has urged farmers to register with the Ministry, so the Government could have better knowledge of their practices, and how best to assist them in instances of natural disasters, as is the case with the recent passage of Hurricane Ivan.
Mr. Ennis, who was addressing a community meeting with farmers of St. Andrew, at the Gordon Town Community Centre yesterday (October 6), told the farmers that one of the problems the Ministry was now facing, as it proceeded with damage assessment of farms across the island, “is that most of you are not registered as farmers”.
“If you were registered under our Agricultural Business Information System, we would not have to be going on the road to find out what you do and don’t do,” he pointed out.
The State Minister also advised the farmers that in order for them to access any governmental assistance for their agricultural rebuilding efforts, they would be required to complete and submit a form detailing their losses. The form, he said, was available at the offices of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), and through RADA extension officers around the island.
He informed the farmers that the forms were meant to evaluate their losses, and that money would not be handed out in the relief efforts. “We are not giving any one money. You will get, based on evaluation, a voucher,” he told them.
The voucher would entitle the recipient to receive his or her specific need, such as fertilisers or crops, he explained. He emphasised that the form was a necessity, as it formed part of the relief efforts to be administered by the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR).
The State Minister said to date, damage to the agricultural sector was estimated at $8 billion.
He cited the sector as being “the backbone” of the Jamaican economy, adding that although houses and other things were damaged, “the real damage of Ivan is the damage to the forests and agriculture, and that brings with it tremendous problems”.

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