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Economic Oversight Committee concerned about dry conditions and growth

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 12:29 PM
Richard Byles

The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) which oversees Jamaica’s programme with the International Monetary Fund, says it is concerned positive predictions for this year could be dashed by further drought conditions.

Jamaica was hit hard by a drought last year that lasted for months and reportedly cost farmers more than $1 billion.

Citing lower than expected rainfall, the National Water Commission has been implementing water restrictions in the Corporate Area while farmers in Clarendon and St Elizabeth have been lamenting the dry conditions.

Chairman of EPOC, Richard Byles, says he is concerned that agriculture could take another big hit and cause a slowdown in economic performance.

Speaking this morning on RJR’s call-in programme, Hotline, he said the forecast could dash hopes for increased agricultural production this summer, compared to last year.

He points out that for one quarter last year agricultural production contracted by 28 per cent.

However, he notes that there will be economic growth by the end of the year of about point five per cent. 

In February, the Meteorological Service, said normal rainfall was expected this year. 

The agricultural sector accounts for 33 per cent of the total water use in Jamaica.