Regional

Councillor wants help for farmers who lost produce, livestock to flooding

BY: RENAE DIXON
Staff Reporter
dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 22, 2018

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COUNCILLOR for the Sturge Town division Winston Lawrence wants the Government through the Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA) to do an assessment of the losses suffered by farmers as a result of heavy rains in St Ann and to help these farmers back on their feet.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer North & East, Lawrence said farmers in his division have suffered significant losses as a result of continued rainfall which has been affecting the parish over the last few weeks.

“The farmers have lost immensely and so are now going through quite a bit in resuscitating their farms and purchasing of livestock to start over,” Lawrence said.

According to Lawrence, the farmers have lost a variety of crops and many livestock as a result of heavy rain which has battered the parish.

“The citizens have lost a lot of crops and livestock, while some homes were flooded. We have been having numerous complaints from citizens about what can be done to facilitate replacing livestock or crops that have been lost,” he added.

Lawrence said he believes the Ministry of Agriculture should offer some assistance to those who were affected.

“I'm suggesting as the councillor for the area that consideration should be given by the Ministry of Agriculture through RADA to do a survey to see the amount of crops and livestock that have been lost and see how farmers can be facilitated in rehabilitating them as time goes on,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence, while highlighting urgent need for farmers, said the roads in his division have been badly damaged with the consistent rainfall which has affected the parish. Lawrence said the extent of road damage is now at a stage where major works are required.

He pointed out that the municipal corporation is doing what it can to ensure roads are back to normal as soon as possible.

“Funds are limited, but we are trying as best as possible to see what we can do to rehabilitate some of these roads,” the councillor added.

Lawrence said the scope of work to be carried out on these roads have widened as the recent torrential rainfall has caused the roads to deteriorate further.

“Since we have been having the torrential rain, the roads within the Sturge Town division have deteriorated to an extent beyond what could be controlled,” he said, reiterating that major works will be needed to fix many of the areas damaged by flood waters.

At the monthly sitting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation earlier this month, Michael Belnavis, chairman of the municipal corporation, said damages in the parish as a result of rainfall, which happened in the week of Janaury 4th, stood at over $200 million. However, that figure is expected to increase as the parish has continued to receive heavy rainfall over the last few weeks.

In the meantime, councillor Lawrence has called attention to people who have erected tall walls in flood-prone areas, blocking the natural flow of water.

Lawrence said some of the flooding that have happened in the Runaway Bay area is as a result of the walls.

“When we have heavy rains, the roads in Runaway Bay become impassible and it is because of some of these high walls that have been built by some of these developers, and they do not leave any hole for the water to run through. We are asking that special attention be given by the various agencies to see that some of these are addressed,” he stated.

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