• JIS News

    Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has assured that enough agricultural produce will be available to supply the local consumer market.
    The Minister gave the assurance while addressing journalists on Friday (Oct.1), after a tour of farms in Manchester and Clarendon, to assess the damage to the agricultural sector from the heavy rains associated with the passage of Tropical Storm Nicole. A technical team from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) accompanied the Minister.
    “I would say to Jamaicans and consumers generally, that there is no need to panic. We do have a fair amount of crops in the fields, crops that will be taken off in the weeks and months ahead to provide for consumer demand. Where there is some shortage, we will make provision to ensure that the necessary importation takes place to fill the gap,” Dr. Tufton stated.
    He said that the main focus now is to ensure that farmers get the necessary assistance to “bounce back” quickly, noting that the recently launched loan scheme will greatly assist the process.
    The loan scheme, which falls under the Financial Access for Responsible Members (FARM) project, will be implemented in collaboration with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the National People’s Cooperative Bank (NPCB). Farmers must be registered with RADA to benefit.
    The Minister, while noting that damage assessments were still being conducted, informed that some 10 to 15 per cent of protected agriculture had been destroyed, including some older-type greenhouses. He said that all the newer model of greenhouses remained intact.
    Minister Tufton, in the meantime, said that he would be “vigorously pursuing” the matter of long-term supply contracts for farmers from buyers of agricultural produce.
    “The banks are saying that if farmers have a contract, they can use that contract as a guarantee just like hard collateral like land and house titles,” he stated.