$25.89m for Blue Mtn farmers

Saturday, May 30, 2015

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FARMERS in the Blue Mountain belt, who have been affected by recent bush fires, are to benefit from a $25.89 million rehabilitation programme being put in place by the Government.


Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier said the assistance being provided is to address the damage to agricultural production in the area, and to restore economic stability to the affected families.


He was speaking to farmers at the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory on Thursday, after a tour of the communities of Guava Ridge, Flamstead, Tower Hill and Mavis Bank.


Of the total, $18.51 million will go towards rehabilitating and replanting coffee in the Blue Mountain Ridge; $1.59 million for restoration and replanting of banana and plantain; and $4.98 million to increase resilience against dry spells, and fires in critical productive zones.


Some 29 acres of banana and plantain will be rehabilitated over a four-month period, with 700 plants and four 50-kilogramme bags of fertiliser per acre to be provided, in addition to transportation assistance.


The coffee rehabilitation project will run over 10 months and provide support to the farmers, whose crops were destroyed.


They will receive $30,000 per acre for land rehabilitation; four 50-kilogramme bags of appropriately formulated fertiliser to aid in replanting and resuscitation, and 900 seedlings per acre.


"This will enable farmers to resuscitate for summer/fall 2015, and spring 2016. Farmers with partial damage will be eligible for two 50-kilogram bags of fertiliser," Minister Kellier said.


The assistance programme will be managed by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), in collaboration with the Coffee Industry Board (CIB), and the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS). For farmers to benefit, they must be registered with RADA.


The latest figures indicate that over 500 acres of agricultural lands in the Blue Mountain belt have been affected by bush fires, resulting in the total loss of some 125 acres of crops valued at $200 million. Over 230 acres of produce also suffered heat and fire damage.


A total of 96 acres of coffee were destroyed in St Andrew, St Thomas and Portland, with another 303 acres in the three parishes damaged. This resulted in $93 million in losses to mainly small farmers



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