Hardware & Lumber (H&L) Agro has donated $2 million in agricultural inputs to assist small farmers who have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The inputs, which include fertilisers, pesticides and seeds, were handed over to Minister of Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, on May 21, at the H&L outlet located along Spanish Town Road, Kingston.
The donation completes the company’s $10-million relief package, which included product discounts of up to 30 per cent for all farmers during April and May.
Minister Shaw thanked the company for the support to the farming community during the current crisis.
He said that the assistance is “consistent with the Government’s commitment to restoring the livelihood and economic stability of our farmers within their respective communities and ensuring Jamaica’s food security”.
Mr. Shaw said the Government is targeting an increase in production to serve local markets.
“As an immediate response, the Government has provided $240 million as part of its assistance programme to redistribute the excess produce from our farmers,” he noted.
For his part, Board Chairman, H&L, Erwin Burton, said the company is committed to assisting small farmers affected by COVID-19, particularly the restriction of movement and closure of markets across the island.
“A lot of us are the products of small farmers. That’s where the strength of the family is, right at the small farmer level, and we have to help that structure and that strength of the family to remain, because when that fails, there are a lot of other associated problems,” Mr. Burton noted.
He added, “When I look at what has happened to our small farmers right now, they’re taking a ‘belly blow’ and that is where H&L Agro is prepared to play its part.”
Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO), H&L, Olive Downer Walsh, said that the mission of the entity is to support farmers across Jamaica.
“We are going further than just donating supplies; the farmers can also count on our technical expertise to ensure that they yield the very best results from their crops. With the additional challenges they have faced in recent weeks due to COVID 19, support from planting to reaping has never been more critical,” she noted.
The support provided by H&L Agro will give small farmers a jump start towards regularising production, following the restriction of movement and closure of markets across the island.
Farmers should begin reaping crops as early as 70 days from transplanting seedlings.
H&L Agro is one of two operating divisions of H&L, which is Jamaica’s largest retailer and wholesaler of building materials, home improvement supplies and agricultural inputs.
There are five H&L Agro stores across the island providing technical solutions, retailing and wholesaling of agricultural and gardening products.
The other division, H&L Rapid True Value, supplies retail and wholesale building materials, home improvement and household items, through 10 stores across the island.