JIS News

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has commenced its relief efforts to farmers across the island by making six tractors available to help in clearing and preparing farmlands, which suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Ivan.
Senator Norman Grant, President of the JAS, told JIS News that the tillage programme is being concentrated in the parishes that were most affected by the hurricane. These are St. Elizabeth, Portland, Clarendon, St. Mary, Manchester and St. Catherine.
Mr. Grant pointed out that funds received through the JAS Development Fund would be disbursed to the affected farmers in the form of donations, such as seeds and fertilizers, as early as next week. He stressed however, that no cash or cheque incentives would be given in hand to the farmers.
The JAS, he said, has already established a Task Force, whose mandate would be to administer the relief and reconstruction programme, and emphasized that the Society “will be active in the rebuilding process”, while collaborating with other organizations.
According to Senator Grant, the initial commitment by the government and donors was a step in reconstructing the sector, and it is expected that more assistance would be given to the farmers in order to get the agricultural sector back on track as quickly as possible.
So far, he added, the JAS has received contributions of up to $1 million in the JAS Development Trust Fund account that was set up after Hurricane Charley.
Since Hurricane Ivan, the JAS has received donations from the Antilles Company, which has donated fertilizers and seeds to the relief effort, as well as Agro Grace Limited, which has donated seeds. In addition, the JAS has received $500,000 from the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo), and $50,000 from the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA). Individual donations have also come from the JAS President and Clinton McGann, who donated $5,000 each.
United Way of Jamaica has also committed itself to an initial contribution of $2 million through the United Way Restoration Fund. The aim is to raise up to $100 million through the mobilization of funds from corporate sponsors and other donors to assist in the reconstruction of the agricultural sector.
Senator Grant pointed out that United Way of Jamaica has formed partnerships with the JAS and the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, which will be the chief implementing agricultural agencies in the restoration programme.
He explained that the partnership with United Way would mainly concentrate on the production of domestic crops, such as vegetables, peas, beans, yams, potatoes and bananas, and the rearing of chickens and small livestock, including pigs and goats. Assistance will also be extended to persons engaged in the fishing industry.
Senator Grant said that the JAS was very active in the rebuilding process, and was currently in discussions with the National Works Agency, to see how the JAS branches islandwide could assist in clearing farm roads that were affected by the hurricane.
He added that the JAS was also looking at the possibility of working with the Ministry of Health to solicit counselling for farmers who might have suffered extreme devastation as a result of the hurricane.

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