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Agriculture Ministry spending $15 million to assist farmers affected by drought

Published:Thursday | August 1, 2019 | 9:43 AM
Minister of Agriculture, Audley Shaw - Contributed photo.

The Ministry of Agriculture through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is spending $15 million to assist farmers affected by the ongoing drought.

Portfolio Minister, Audley Shaw, said a proper assessment is being done to determine further assistance or interventions.

In a statement to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Shaw also said that under the Ministry’s Production Incentive Programme some $19.95 million is being allocated via the Members of Parliament to assist in providing inputs to farmers islandwide.

“MPs in the rural parishes are being allocated $350,000 per constituency while MPs in urban constituencies are being allocated $250,000,” he pointed out.

Shaw further said that based on an assessment by RADA’s technical team, there has been less than required rainfall in all parishes.

He noted that an estimated 5,600 farmers have been affected with losses of 500 hectares.

The crops mostly affected include vegetables, condiments, fruits, cereal roots and tubers.

Additionally, 99 farmers in St Andrew and St Thomas have sustained an estimated loss of $20.9 million as a result of bush fires.

The crops impacted are coffee and fruit trees, as well as farm buildings, goats and pasture lands.

As it relates to the availability and cost of produce, the agriculture minister said that there is a trending increase in prices of agricultural food items such as vegetables and tubers.

“However, there will be no need for any large-scale importation of these items as our valued farmers have been responding to the need for increased production and, with the assistance being provided, are expanding production in our irrigated areas,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Ministry is now engaged in a number of long-term strategies to address the challenges associated with climate change.

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