Cllr pleads for speedy assistance for farming victims of fire

Monday, August 19, 2019

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Councillor for the Pedro Plains Division, Jeremy Palmer (Jamaica Labour Party) is urging the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to waste no time assessing damage caused by a large fire Friday, which destroyed crops in the Flaggaman/Pedro Plains area of south St Elizabeth.

The fire, he said, was a “double whammy” for farmers who have been struggling with an oppressive drought in recent months.

“I think we should rely on the RADA people to come in quickly and do a forensic checking of the fields...they need to take the names...make sure that the people who have really lost (suffered crop damage) get help,” said Palmer.

He told the Jamaica Observer by telephone that in his estimation in excess of 100 people closely connected to farming were adversely affected as the fire — thriving on dry conditions and driven by strong winds — swept across about 200 acres of farm land.

Scallion, melon, tomatoes, and cantaloupe were among the crops destroyed.

The fire was eventually put out late Saturday by the St Elizabeth Fire Brigade, with support from private water truckers and residents.

“It was a total community effort,” said Palmer.

He suggested that material help such as fertiliser and seeds will be important to help those who have suffered “back on their feet”.

Despite being often referred to as Jamaica's 'bread basket' because of the large volume of vegetables and spices produced there, southern St Elizabeth routinely gets far less rain than elsewhere on the island.

— Garfield Myers


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