Some 1,000 vulnerable subsistence farmers, who were most severely affected by the passage of Hurricane Sandy last year, will receive much-needed assistance, which will provide them with food security and a means of resuscitating their income.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, on Monday, May 27, signed an agreement to provide $30 million in grant funding to 50 farmers in the communities of Leith Hall, and 900 in Font Hill both in St. Thomas; as well as 50 farmers in Reach district, Portland.
Under the initiative, which will be implemented by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the farmers will receive vouchers to purchase critical agricultural inputs, and also benefit from training to boost their resilience to natural disasters.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens location, portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, noted that the progamme, which is being funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), will benefit the most affected, who are yet to fully recover.
Special priority will be given to female-headed households, and those with small children, and the youth.
“Participant selection criteria also include: farmer registration with RADA to verify farmer status; holdings of less than five acres; willingness to register and participate in community work programme and training activities; and low level income,” Mr. Clarke outlined.
Some 40,000 farmers islandwide were affected by the hurricane with losses amounting to more than $4 billion. The worst hit parishes were St. Thomas, Portland, and St. Mary, with crops such as banana, cocoa, and coffee being most affected.
The Minister noted that hurricanes and other disasters threaten food and nutrition security, and that in order to mitigate some of the challenges, Cabinet had recently approved the Food and Nutrition Security Policy, which is now before Parliament.
Contact: Alphea Saunders