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Govt braces for agriculture bill from flood damage

Friday, May 19, 2017

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The Government is bracing for the bill from the agricultural sector, as damage from heavy rains across the island since the weekend is expected to run into millions of dollars.An assessment of the devastation is now being carried out by teams from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

“As soon as accessibility permits in some areas, preliminary figures will be obtained as to the true state of damage done to the agricultural sector,” portfolio minister Karl Samuda said yesterday.

He said there has been widespread damage to crops, livestock and infrastructure, with major farming areas affected.

“We know that areas of extensive vegetable production such as Clarendon (Kellits and Bog Hole), St Catherine and St Ann are under flood water. There are also reports of flooding in areas of St Elizabeth, resulting in crop losses. We received unconfirmed reports of loss of cows, goats and pigs in Clarendon and St Thomas. Broiler farmers are also affected,” the minister said.

He noted that major interventions will be needed from the ministry to assist the sector to return to production quickly, adding that access to seeds, seedlings and other inputs will be critical.

According to Samuda, “The ministry stands ready to continue to support and provide productivity incentives to our farmers who continue to face risks through weather-related events of drought and floods as well as pests and diseases. We will do so through our Production Incentive Fund, which now stands at some $200 million.”

Funding and input supply are to be allocated after RADA has completed estimates of the damage.

Dr Horace Chang, who was in charge of the Government during Prime Minister Andrew Holness's absence overseas, indicated on Monday that there has been extensive damage to farm lands and infrastructure, with all parishes except Hanover, Trelawny and parts of Westmoreland, having been severely impacted by the rains.

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