$100m allocated for flood damage repairs in three parishes

Written by on January 24, 2018

THE agriculture ministry says it will be spending $100 million to help with flood damage repair and recovery in the parishes of Portland, St Mary and Trelawny, which have suffered agricultural and infrastructure damage of more than $342 million from recent heavy rains.

Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda, who made the announcement in the House of Representatives yesterday, said the ministry has already allocated $240 million to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to provide planting material and other inputs to farmers, and another $18 million for farmers in St Elizabeth, to combat the beet army worm outbreak which, along with the cocoa frosty pod disease, has spread from Clarendon to almost all of St Mary, and parts of St Catherine. Cabinet last week approved a $700-million programme to fight the frosty pod disease over the next two years.

“These events in the agricultural sector have focused our attention to explore a new strategy for agricultural development. The growth and development of the sector has always been closely correlated with the weather. The onset of climate change has made this correlation even closer, and the sector cannot continue to perform in a sustainable manner unless we radically shift our strategy,” Samuda said.

The minister told the House that following the 13.5 per cent growth in the sector in 2016, the year 2017 was greeted early by persistent drought which caused a 3.7 per cent dip in the first quarter, followed by continuous rains from April to the end of the year with a great deal of flooding in May and June.

Those rains resulted in close to $800 million in damage to the sector, affecting more than 10,000 farmers, and amounting to losses of about $794 million.

“The continuous nature of the rains resulted in the second, third and fourth quarter declining. Preliminary estimates indicate that we will have a decrease for the sector of about four per cent. From June to October alone last year, direct crop and livestock losses amounted to over $300 million,” he stated.

Samuda pointed out, too, that the rains have not only caused losses in crops and livestock, but continued showers have inhibited efforts at restoration such as ploughing and land preparation and planting of certain crops.

“At the same time, the weather significantly impacted the latter part of the sugar cane harvest and militated against indicators of factory efficiency and the quality of the cane,” he said.

The minister said that given the inability of irrigation systems to deal with excessive rains, which are poised to become more frequent with climate change, the Government must now focus on the rapid expansion of protected agriculture such as greenhouse, and hydroponics.

He said this had to be done while dealing with structural issues such as the rehabilitation of farm roads, on which the Government plans to spend more than $366 million by the end of the financial year.


Courtesy of: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-100m-allocated-for-flood-damage-repairs-in-three-parishes_123368?profile=1373

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