Agriculture ministry working to ensure adequate food supplies for Christmas – Green
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining is scaling up efforts to ensure adequate food supplies for Jamaicans this Christmas, says portfolio minister Floyd Green
Speaking during a recent World Food Day event, Green assured that support to local farmers is being channelled through the production incentive programme and the ministry’s drought mitigation programme.
“A lot of the vegetable crops are six-week crops [or] short term crops. So what we are doing is ramping up our support to the farmers. Some support has been provided to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority and directly to members of parliament to help farmers. We’re ramping up direct support in the form of things like seedlings and fertilisers so that our farmers can get planting again,” he pointed out.
Noting that the sector has had a “very difficult year” with a prolonged meteorological drought and some intense periods of rainfall, the minister said farmers have had to take certain steps to ensure production.
“Our temperatures are higher, which is causing much more pressure on our crops and our livestock. So what the farmers have to be doing is looking at their production model,” he said.
“They have to be reducing some of their production to ensure that they are able to treat with cost, especially because of the elevated heat and the need for water. We are seeing a reduction in a number of our product lines.
“Additionally, unfortunately, when we had got rainfall, we had short bouts of intense rainfall like what happened even a few weeks ago where places were flooded; so we’ve had almost a double whammy this year,” he lamented.
Green noted, however, that recent weather conditions have been more conducive to planting and farmers are now “willing and ready” to go out in the field.
“We will be working with them [and] some of our greenhouse farmers. Thankfully, on farms where they are better able to control the climatic conditions, they have done better. So we’ll be working with them to, again, ramp up their production so we can have better numbers into the Christmas season,” he said.
The minister informed that he has met with poultry producers and has been given the assurance that there will be sufficient supplies of chicken meat this Christmas.
He further noted that pork production has also performed well despite the heat.
Green said he has given instructions for a team to be assembled to continuously monitor production each week.
“If there needs to be any sort of supplementing, then we will look at it. We look at every option. The reality is that we have to ensure that we are food secure for the Christmas,” the minister said.