Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has announced a $45 million crop production programme as part of the Government’s drought mitigation initiative for the sector.
The programme, he said, will provide for the establishment of 645 hectares of select crops in 13 parishes to counter any shortfall in cash crops resulting from the severe dry conditions affecting the island.
Minister Clarke, who was addressing a press briefing at his Hope Gardens office on Tuesday, February 12, said that the programme will have three components: production incentives for farmers in irrigated areas to encourage them to plant additional acreages; production incentives for farmers in non-irrigated areas not presently affected by the dry conditions; and the trucking of water to the dry farming areas in St. Elizabeth.
“Through this initiative, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) will disburse, in the coming weeks, some $15 million in planting materials to approximately 2,000 farmers covering the full requirement for planting material,” Minister Clarke said.
“Also, a critical focus of this intervention will be the urgent disbursement of $5 million for the trucking of water to the most severely impacted communities to sustain crops already in the ground. Emphasis will be placed on assisting dry farming areas in Southern St. Elizabeth; the trucking of water is scheduled to begin in the coming week,” he stated.
The Ministry will also offset 50 per cent of fertilizer cost with an injection of $12.5 million for the purchase and distribution of the commodity, while another $12.5million will be made available for assistance in land preparation activities.
Selection of farmers to benefit under the initiative will be determined by their track record in producing the selected crops; readiness to immediately initiate production; and ability to engage in a partnership to provide the additional resources required to sustain the crops to harvesting.
All supplies will be made available through RADA parish offices for registered farmers.