South St Elizabeth farmers get relief supplies
Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Franklin Witter (second left) and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hardware and Lumber (H& L) Agro, Olive Downer Walsh (second right), make a presentation to South St. Elizabeth farmer, Henrick Francis (centre). Occasion was the hand over of  relief supplies to farmers affected by recent heavy rains at the Bull Savannah Church of God of Prophecy in St Elizabeth on June 29. Also taking part in the presentation are Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Orville Palmer (left); and Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Winston Simpson. Photo: JIS

ST JAMES, Jamaica - Some 30 farmers in south St Elizabeth, who suffered severe losses during recent heavy rains, have received essential inputs and supplies to assist in the recovery effort.

The items, which were handed over at the Bull Savannah Church of God of Prophecy in the parish on Thursday, included seeds, irrigation supplies, fertilisers, chemicals, farm tools, among other things.

They were provided by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in partnership with entities such as Hardware and Lumber (H& L) Agro, Newport-Fersan (Jamaica) Limited, Food for the Poor, Caribbean Chemicals Jamaica Limited and St Jago Farm and Hardware Supplies Limited, which have also pledged to donate funds to assist the farmers.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Franklin Witter, in his remarks at the handover ceremony, noted that while the greatest impact of the heavy rainfall was felt in south St Elizabeth, farmers in Clarendon, St Thomas, Manchester and St Ann also suffered major losses.

“When RADA did the evaluation as to the cost of the impact on the farmers, it amounted to over $270 million worth of damage and this includes not only direct impact on the farms, but also on various infrastructure which support farming within the communities,” he noted.

Approximately 1,500 crop and livestock farmers across the island were affected by the heavy rains and are benefitting from support from the ministry in collaboration with various partners.

Witter informed that some 1,000 crop farmers were impacted, with condiment crops such as onion and scallion suffering the heaviest losses. Cucumber, watermelon, legumes, cereal, banana and plantain were also destroyed.

In addition, 486 livestock farmers lost poultry, small ruminants, cattle among others.

Witter, who is also Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Eastern, said that the farmers remain resilient and are making every effort to “rebuild and restart”.

“We know our farmers in these parts, especially in South St Elizabeth; they are very resilient and would have been accustomed to producing high quality output even when we have serious drought conditions. So, we know our farmers can respond to some of these challenges,” he said.

Witter thanked the various entities for collaborating with the ministry to assist the farmers, noting that the support will expedite the recovery process.


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