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Story Highlights

  • The Government will be providing assistance to farmers of Blue Mountain Coffee and other crops, who have been affected by recent bush fires in several communities in St. Thomas.
  • Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, gave the commitment during a tour of the fire-affected areas yesterday (July 14), to get a first-hand look at the damage and speak with the farmers.
  • Minister Kellier informed that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), and the Coffee Industry Board (CIB) will be compiling a list of the farmers, whose farms were damaged or destroyed.

The Government will be providing assistance to farmers of Blue Mountain Coffee and other crops, who have been affected by recent bush fires in several communities in St. Thomas.

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, gave the commitment during a tour of the fire-affected areas yesterday (July 14), to get a first-hand look at the damage and speak with the farmers.

Hundreds of acres of farmlands in the parish have reportedly been damaged by the bush fires. Farmers in the hills of Black Spur, Mahogany Vale, Hagley Gap, and Epping Farm, have suffered losses of coffee, bananas, and cash crops.

Minister Kellier informed that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), and the Coffee Industry Board (CIB) will be compiling a list of the farmers, whose farms were damaged or destroyed.

This, he said, is to ensure that a proper representation can be made to the agencies that will be funding the response programme, and to ensure that “all the affected farmers get help.”

“The Government is prepared to work with you in the recovery programme. I want to make sure that the list that we receive at the Ministry is an accurate list. No one must be left behind, who was part of the devastation,” Minister Kellier said.

The Minister told the farmers that while most of the support will be in the provision of seedlings and fertilisers, there will be a cash component, so that those whose earnings have been disrupted can meet some of their expenses while they rehabilitate the farms.

 

“We want to make sure that everybody gets some form of help, so that when the exercise is complete, there is no quarrelling,” he pointed out.

Minister Kellier is again urging farmers and other persons to exercise care in the handling of fires.

He said that uncontrollable fires were causing havoc on the livelihood of scores of individuals, while also causing the Government significant sums to set up recovery programmes.

Minister Kellier, who was accompanied on the tour by political representatives for the area, as well as personnel from his Ministry, said RADA will be intensifying its public education drive to get farmers to implement best practices in agriculture.

He said the Blue Mountain Coffee brand is one that Jamaica must protect, as it is in global demand.

“We have to do everything to protect it, to develop it, and we want to rehabilitate this coffee industry in the shortest possible time,” the Minister told his audience.