Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, is again lauding the nation’s farmers for the resilience they have demonstrated despite the challenges they have been facing as a result of severe weather conditions and other catastrophes.
“I want to [commend]… our “food heroes” – our over 220,000 farmers – who, through resilience, have made a tremendous contribution to our country and the agricultural sector over the years. It’s no secret that our farmers and fishers have really exemplified the true spirit of the Jamaican people. They have persevered, they have excelled despite many challenges, and we do face some of those challenges now,” he said.
The Minister was addressing the virtual staging of the 125th Annual General Meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), on Wednesday (December 2).
In recent times, farmers have been hit by the double blow of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recent heavy rains that destroyed almost 3,000 hectares of crops, and resulted in a huge loss of livestock.
The Minister noted that he has been in the field visiting parishes most hard-hit by the flood rains, including St. Thomas, Clarendon, and St. Elizabeth. “I have seen tremendous devastation in relation to a number of farms being wiped out – hectares of crops being destroyed,” he lamented.
“But for me, what always stands out and what continues to stand out is the determination of our farmers, the spirit of our farmers, their willingness to get back to production, and that despite all the issues, they often say to me: ‘Minister, once we have the framework and the opportunity we will do the production’,” he said.
Mr. Green said the country is appreciative of the nation’s farmers, who “despite the downturn in the economy, despite the challenges of COVID-19… still continue to farm… still continue to produce”.
He pointed out that because farmers continued to produce, agriculture grew in the July to September quarter by two per cent, despite the fact that the economy declined by 11 per cent.
To assist the more than 14,000 farmers who lost crops and livestock amounting to billions of dollars during the flood rains, the Government announced a $646.9-million support package for them last month. The programme is being rolled out over the next three months.
“I am quite aware that we may not be able to help every single farmer in need of help, but we are definitely trying to give the farmers an opportunity to get back on their feet,” he said.