Climate
JM | Nov 12, 2020

Farmers to get assistance after flood rains cause $2.4 billion in crop damage

/ Our Today

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Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green (right) inspects a flooded farm in the Bog Hole area of Clarendon, on November 4. (Photo: JIS)

The government has estimated the crop damage from the recent flood rains at $2.5 billion.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green, who made the disclosure in Parliament Tuesday, pointed out that some 2,955 hectares of crops were lost. 

Green told members of parliament (MPs) that approximately 14,181 farmers were affected.

Among the crops lost in the deluge were legumes, vegetables, condiments, cereal, plantains, fruits, Irish and sweet potatoes, bananas, yam, cassava and sorrel. The minister pointed out that the livestock subsector was not spared from the flood damage.

According to the agriculture minister, “the largest loss was from poultry (broilers and layers) at an estimated value of some $12 million”.

He added: “Other impactful losses include damage to apiculture valued at approximately $10 million with over 295 colonies lost by some 60 farmers. Over 60 dairy and beef cattle were lost valued at approximately $6.8 million and over 350 pigs and small ruminants valued at some $7.5 million.”

Floyd Green, minister of agriculture and fisheries.

The overall losses for livestock amounted to some $38.9 million with a total of approximately 780 farmers being affected.

Green stated that the damage assessment for infrastructure such as farm roads and drains, protected structures, greenhouses and catchment areas is ongoing.

However, preliminary estimates are valued at $140 million. 

He told MPs that his ministry wass working feverishly towards the completion of the assessments despite the attendant obstacles. 

SUPPORT TO THE SECTOR

Green announced that his ministry has identified resources, which will be redirected to provide immediate relief to the sector. The support will be coordinated through the direct provision of input supplies to farmers to be dispatched via the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), MPs and private public sector partnership.

The support provided through the MPs is categorised under three tiers based on the level of support needed, damages sustained and assessed. Twenty urban MPs will be provided with $500,000 each while 20 rural MPs will be provided up to $1 million worth of support. Twenty one MPs in those areas significantly impacted will be provided up to $1.5 million worth of support.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green (right) listens to Clarendon farmer, Devon Green (centre), while on a tour of farm areas in the parish, on November 4. At left is Wayne Reid, parish manager with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority. (Photo: JIS)

A total of $64.5 million is to be dispatched through the MPs via RADA for immediate support to their respective constituencies. Green reported that the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry has committed $10 million to provide 2,500 householders with backyard farming kits valuing approximately $4,000 each.

Green advised Parliament that his ministry’s support would be focused in the parishes that experienced the greatest losses. These were Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. Catherine, St. Thomas, Clarendon and St. Andrew.

CHEMICAL AND SEED ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME

The Agriculture Ministry will be providing direct support to farmers in the form of a pesticide programme. The chemicals to be distributed include fungicides, herbicides and insecticides to combat current and expected heavy infestations due to the continuous rainfall.

This programme is valued at $95 million.

As for assorted seeds and other planting material, this will be provided to the tune of $215 million. These inputs, Green said, would be provided to open field farmers as well as greenhouse producers, whose growing fields and covered vegetation has been partially or completely wiped out.

Fertiliser will be provided to needy farmers given the fact that the nutrition of several crops would have been compromised due to the level of leaching of soil nutrients that has taken place during the flood rains.

As an immediate intervention, the ministry is allocating $30 million towards badly needed fertiliser to assist in replenishing nutrition to aid rapid crop recovery. 

FARM ROAD, GREENHOUSE AND CATCHMENT DAMAGE

The damage done to farm roads has been severe and so, under the current Farm Road Programme, 17 roads valued approximately $111.6 million will be rehabilitated in the affected parishes.

Additionally, the ministry has immediately isolated some $100 million, which will be redistributed to rehabilitate farm roads in other affected areas.

In order to quickly recover and ensure food security, an allocation of some $40 million has been made to urgently repair greenhouses and shade houses that have been damaged to get farmers back into production. Repairs to catchment areas such as ponds and reservoirs will also be undertaken to provide a sustainable water source for farmers and farmers’ groups. 

The assessment of the affected areas is almost complete. Support is also coming to the apiculture sector, which will be receiving some $5 million that will go towards bee farmers to assist in their recovery.

DP

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