The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has provided assistance to 6,000 farmers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which lashed the island on October 24 last year. Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, made the disclosure in the House of Representatives on January 22. He was responding to questions posed by Opposition Spokesperson on Agriculture, J.C. Hutchinson, about the Hurricane Sandy relief programme for farmers.
In a breakdown of the assistance given to the farmers, $27 million was spent on fertilizer, $7.5 million on land preparation, $12.8 million on seeds and $3.9 million on broiler chicks and feed. An additional $3 million is to be spent on fertiliser purchase. Mr. Clarke also said that the European Union (EU) has agreed to contribute €100,000 ($13.5 million) in fertiliser and insecticide to the farmers. Distribution of the materials will take place from the RADA parish offices.
“Approximately 1,000 farmers will benefit from this facility. This grant will be given only to legitimate registered banana and plantain farmers, who must present documentation to verify registration. The RADA/European Union Banana Support Programme will procure and distribute materials to farmers. Utilisation of material grant will be supervised by the Banana Board,” the Minister explained.
In terms of coffee, the Coffee Industry Board has received $39.9 million from the Ministry and has engaged the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association and the Jamaica Coffee Growers Association in the logistics for the distribution of inputs. It is expected that approximately 4,000 farmers will benefit from this initiative. For the fisheries sub sector, $15 million has been received to assist with the recovery efforts. Approximately 1,500 fish farmers and fisher folks are expected to share this benefit. Mr. Clarke also added that $15 million has been allocated for cocoa farmers and the distribution of funds began in December 2012.