JIS News

Damage done by Tropical Storm Gustav to the agricultural sector in western Jamaica, has been estimated at just over $98 million.
Of the three western parishes of St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, St. James was the worst affected by the storm, in terms of dollar value.
Based on assessments done by Officers of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), losses in St. James are in the region of $46 million for crops, with an additional $1.14 million for livestock. In Hanover, the losses are estimated at $30 million for crops and $1.37 million for livestock, while in Westmoreland, the losses are in the region of $18 million for crops and $1.75 million for livestock.
This information was outlined to JIS News, by Executive Director for RADA, Alexander Powell.
He pointed out that the crops affected were legumes, vegetables, cereal, fruits, ground provisions, plantains and bananas.
Mr. Powell said that the parish of St. James was hardest hit of the three parishes, because of its vast acreages under banana production. He also cited the eastern parishes of St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas, where some 85 per cent of the banana production in those parishes, suffered some amount of damage.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has accelerated relief of some $188 million in terms of supplies to the banana sector, through co-operation with the European Union (EU). We are also providing cutlasses and files, and islandwide distribution of those cutlasses and files started on September 8,” he noted.
Mr. Powell explained that efforts are being made to have an early recovery in the agricultural sector, pointing out that the distribution of seeds and other planting materials have started. He said that recovery in the short term crops would be evident by the end of the year, while the recovery process for crops, such as banana and plantain, would take a little longer.
The Executive Director encouraged farmers to practise some amount of diversification of crops, wherever and whenever possible. “I would say that agriculture is something that we have to manage better, in terms of where we plant and what we plant,” he said.