A sum of $30 million has been allocated to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to increase food production in parishes with sufficient access to water, to counter any possible shortfall in production from areas more adversely affected by drought conditions.
This was disclosed by Acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, who said the move is among a number of initiatives being carried out by the Ministry to mitigate the drought and ensure sustainability of the sector.
Mr. Kellier, who was speaking on Tuesday, July 29, at a press briefing at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew, said a further $3 million has been transferred to RADA to assist farmers affected by losses due to fires.
“The money is in the account of RADA and is being disbursed consistent with the programmes developed by the parishes,” he informed.
He said the Ministry has also invited all Members of Parliament to formulate programmes, which include the increased trucking of water, to save crops and livestock that are being stressed by the drought conditions.
Additionally, a major public education programme is being formulated by the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to promote responsible land clearing practices.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kellier appealed to farmers to desist from using the slash and burn method to clear their lands.
“I know you are anxious to clear your lands in order to get on with the business of production. But, I am beseeching our farmers to resist the temptation to light fires,” he said.
Mr. Kellier noted that the country has seen the devastating impact of these fires, with the death of one farmer in St. Elizabeth and the loss of crops worth millions of dollars.