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Gov't working with FAO to develop insurance scheme for farmers

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government of Jamaica is working with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to develop an insurance scheme for crop and livestock farmers.

Principal Director, Planning and Policy, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Shaun Baugh, said that there have been models in the past that have worked, but they were not sustainable.

“We are now in a very serious way, looking at all the past initiatives and putting them together to make a specific insurance scheme that our farmers will buy into and will benefit the country,” he said.

Baugh was speaking with JIS News following the opening session of the FAO national consultation to discuss priorities for Jamaica's food and nutrition security and rural development at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

He pointed out that having an insurance scheme in place will better assist farmers to rebound from a natural disaster.

“It will also reduce the amount of expenditure that the Government has to spend every time there is a disaster, because whenever there is flooding, drought or hurricanes the Government has to step in and quickly provide that relief,” he said.

He noted that agriculture is the only sector that can rebound within three months “and it is important for us to put into the hands of farmers some comfort in the form of an insurance that will allow them to be able to rebuild and provide for their families if any form of natural disaster should occur”.

Baugh informed that the insurance scheme will come on stream as soon as the work is completed. He said that consultations will be held with the various stakeholders, such as farmers, before the scheme is implemented.

Meanwhile FAO Representative for Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Belize, Dr Gillian Smith, said her organisation is providing technical assistance to the Government towards the development of the scheme.

“We are bringing the expertise and the experience of other countries that have worked in this area or have some innovative solutions, which may be applicable to Jamaica,” she noted.

“We are hoping that at the end of the project, which is contributing to the Government's vision and direction, that we will have a set of risk insurance options that apply... to small farming communities in their production and processing endeavours”, Dr Smith said.

The agriculture sector has recorded notable achievements despite the inclement weather last year. These successes include continued self-sufficiency in eggs, poultry, pork and tubers; 88 per cent self-sufficiency in table Irish potato; and growth in non-traditional exports such as yam, ackee and sweet potato.

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