JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that a full assessment of the damage and losses, sustained within the agricultural sector during the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav, will be undertaken within a week. This, he points out, will serve to inform and guide the comprehensive plan, which the Government will be embarking on, to resuscitate the sector.
Dr. Tufton made this disclosure while on tour of sections of Portland on Saturday (August 30), during which he got a first hand view of the damage sustained by the parish’s agricultural sector. The Minister’s tour took him to the Golden Vale area of the Rio Grande Valley, where he visited a number of banana farms, which were adversely affected. Preliminary assessments suggest that banana was the crop, in the parish, most severely impacted by the onslaught of Gustav.
Dr. Tufton was updated on the extent of the losses, and the challenges being experienced by farmers, attempting to resuscitate their cultivations. In some instances, farmers reported losing as much as thirty aces of the fruit, and lamented the timing of the storm’s passage, in light of the fact that the crop would have been ready for harvesting within four to six weeks.
Addressing the farmers, Dr. Tufton sympathised with them, pointing out that their colleagues in neighbouring St. Mary had suffered similar losses. While citing that the supply of bananas locally, is not likely to diminish over the next six months, Dr. Tufton lamented the country’s ability to supply the overseas market. He said the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav, has further compromised the country’s ability to fulfill its overseas markets. This, he added, comes against the background of a sector, which has been severely affected within recent years by a number of weather systems.
The Agriculture Minister, however, assured the farmers, that the Government will endeavour to provide them with the necessary assistance for the resuscitation of their cultivations, adding that the effort will be embarked, upon following discussions with the various stakeholders.