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Forty-seven pimento farmers in Portland were presented with cheques valued at $459,150 by the Ministry of Agriculture on May 12, to assist with the resuscitation of their farms, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan.
The presentation took place at the Buff Bay Community Centre in the parish, and among those in attendance were Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Errol Ennis, members of the Portland farming community and officers of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Cheques valued between $3,000 and $45,000 were presented under the Ministry’s Pimento Resuscitation Programme, and represented the first payment to be made to pimento growers in the parish who suffered losses as a result of the hurricane.
The initiative is part of an islandwide pimento resuscitation programme currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture through which 163,241 trees are to be resuscitated over a six-month period, at an estimated cost of $39.6 million.
A total of 102 farmers in Portland are expected to benefit from the programme.
In his address at the ceremony, Mr. Ennis said the Ministry had embarked on the initiative to assist the pimento farmers because of the vast earning potential of pimento locally and abroad.
He urged the farmers to make a special effort to use the assistance to their best advantage, and encouraged them to venture into other areas of farming, which could also be of benefit to themselves, as well as to the national economy.
Mr. Ennis noted that the cultivation of crops such as pepper, June plum and sorrel had the potential to earn much for hardworking and enterprising farmers, and stressed that Jamaican farmers must begin to develop the type of revolutionary thinking that would transform the country’s agriculture and place them on the cutting edge of production in the global economy.
He emphasised the need for farmers to view agriculture as a business, which had to be taken seriously, pointing out that it was important for more farmers to become involved in value added production, in order to maximise their earnings from the ventures in which they are involved.
Also addressing the function was Marva Allen-Simms, Acting General Manager of the Export Division of the Ministry of Agriculture.
She also encouraged the farmers to use the assistance to gain maximum benefit from their farms, and urged them to ensure that the pimento they produced was the best quality, in order to attract premium prices.