JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has disclosed that the Government was working assiduously to bring about a satisfactory resolution to the outstanding insurance claim by coffee farmers affected by the passage of hurricane Ivan. He made the disclosure on Thursday (Nov. 10) while addressing the launch of the Jamaica Agricultural Society/Excel Farmers Healthcare Plus Insurance Plan at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.
In his address, Mr. Patterson said sustainable rural development was a critical factor in the protection against urban decay. He said while much has been accomplished, more needs to be done to uplift rural life and stem the tide of rural-urban migration.
Among the achievements highlighted by the Prime Minister are the significant reduction in rural poverty. He said 87 per cent of Jamaica’s rural population now have access to potable water, which compares favourable with the global average of 70 percent. He also spoke of the 60 percent overall improvement in access to sanitation which is almost twice the global average of 35 percent.
Prime minister Patterson said farmers must be brought to the frontline of development and that this would require drastic improvement in their productivity and that of the entire agriculture sector. He said a key ingredient was the modernization of equipment, tools and the use of technology in the sector. He said further that the modernization of the sector and its production methods must include the upgrading of the skill and educational level of farming communities.
In welcoming the Excel Insurance Plan, Mr. Patterson said the health status of farmers and their families was important to the sustainability of the sector. He said improving the health status of rural Jamaica was an underlying factor in the establishment of the National Health Fund, which now provides thousands of rural communities with improved access to affordable drugs.
He pointed to the low level of private insurance coverage available to the agriculture sector and said the plan provides an opportunity for farmers to meet their critical illness and health insurance needs.