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Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, said that payouts from the Catastrophe Fund for the banana industry, amounting to some $7 million, are scheduled to be made this week.

Speaking on November 13 at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the provision of a $100 million loan facility for the resuscitation of the banana industry, at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew, Mr. Clarke informed that assessments of the losses and dislocation sustained by the farmers were completed, and the payout due to them, “calculated a week ago”.

“The payout is according to the terms of the Procedures Manual of the banana industry’s Catastrophe Fund. This stipulates that payout must take place from the allocated portion of the fund, which (in this case) amounts to over $7million.Notifications to farmers of individual payouts and coupons to procure materials will take place Wednesday (Nov. 14) in St. Mary and on Friday (Nov. 16) in Portland and St. Thomas,” he disclosed.

Regarding banana farmers in western Jamaica, who have made representation for assistance, the Minister assured that “we have not forgotten” them, pointing out that their claims will be addressed immediately following the disbursements in eastern parishes.

Recounting that the Fund paid out some $10 million to farmers, following the passage of Tropical Storm Nicole in 2010, Mr. Clarke urged farmers, who are not currently registered with the facility, to do so, as to be able secure assistance, in the event that they suffer dislocation.  He advised that registration for 2013 is slated to commence in January.

Administration of the Catastrophe Fund falls under the purview of the Banana Board, whose General Manager, Janet Conie, earlier this year, urged farmers to make contributions to the facility.

She pointed out that, in so doing, they will be provided with some measure of insurance for their crops, in the event of a natural disaster.