KINGSTON — Farmers who have suffered extensive losses from the recent heavy rains will benefit from an $18-million allocation by the Government to begin the rebuilding effort.Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, J C Hutchinson, said the sum is the first tranche of a response package for the sector. The farmers will begin to receive the support next week.
Hutchinson said in this first instance, farmers who were severely affected are being given assistance to get back on their feet.
He noted that others will be reached as additional funds are provided to the ministry. The minister, who was speaking at the end of a tour of flood-affected areas in northern Clarendon yesterday, noted there are areas where “crops are totally gone”.
He said that in one area “nearly 200 acres of cultivation are still under water, and roughly 100 farmers have lost crops and animals”.
“It might take months for those farmers to get back into cultivation, so we have to find a way of giving them assistance to keep going,” he pointed out.
Hutchinson, who was accompanied on the tour by officers from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), informed that the Government has earmarked lands to boost production in order to prevent any fallout in the sector.
“We have quite a number of areas that we have earmarked to get cultivation going – Irish potato, onion, sweet potato, and scallion; all of these cash crops. We are looking to get farmers on those lands, so that we don’t have to import anything,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the minister is advising farmers to desist from planting along riverbanks. He said while the traditional practice provides easy access to water, scores of farmers have had their investments wiped out when heavy and continuous rainfall causes the rivers to overflow their banks.
“Right across the country the riverbanks are overflowing, and, as such, there are farmers whose whole cultivations have washed away. We are encouraging farmers not to cultivate along the riverbanks,” Hutchinson said.