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  • Acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is assuring the nation that there is adequate supply of food to meet demand, despite the drought conditions affecting the island.
  • Some 4.7 million pounds of Irish potatoes are currently in storage, with another 50,000 pounds to be reaped from the current crop, which is enough to satisfy demand for the next two months.
  • The Ministry’s projection is that there will be about a 20 per cent fall off in production for the July to September quarter.

Acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is assuring the nation that there is adequate supply of food to meet demand, despite the drought conditions affecting the island.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew on July 29, Mr. Kellier said that the country has sufficient tubers, bananas, and plantains.

In addition, some 4.7 million pounds of Irish potatoes are currently in storage, with another 50,000 pounds to be reaped from the current crop, which is enough to satisfy demand for the next two months.

He is therefore urging Jamaicans not to panic. “Let me say categorically that there is no need for the kind of hysteria being perpetuated,” Minister Kellier said.

He noted however, that vegetables will be more susceptible to the impact of the drought, pointing out that the Ministry’s projection is that there will be about a 20 per cent fall off in production for the July to September quarter.

“Fortuitously, this happens to coincide with the low demand period in the hotel industry, which is a major consumer of these products,” he said.

Mr. Kellier said within this context, the Ministry is encouraging and incentivising farmers supplied by its irrigation systems and in areas with adequate rainfall and other water resources to ramp up vegetable production.

“At the same time, we are prepared to consider the facilitation of some imports as warranted,” he said.

In the meantime, Minister Kellier, said that while the drought is serious, the situation is not catastrophic. “We need to put things into perspective and we, therefore, should not subscribe to any form of sensationalism,” he urged.

He informed that while recent assessments have shown that in excess of 1,600 hectares valued at just under $900 million, have been lost or damaged due to the drought and fires, the total area of arable lands under production in the country is approximately 200,000 hectares.

“So, whilst we recognise the severity, we must place the situation in the correct context,” he said.

The country has been experiencing drought conditions for the past three to four months, with southern parishes facing the brunt of the dry weather.

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