#KINGSTON, April 9 (JIS): Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Ministry is spending some $100 million on a programme aimed at mitigating the impact of drought on farmers and to gain at least a five-per cent growth in food production.
He said the programme will be carried out over a 12-month period, targeting the planting of vegetables, fruits, condiments, roots and tubers as well as the rearing of small ruminants.
“The programme will be implemented in critical parishes islandwide, targeting in excess of 13,000 farmers as the Ministry looks to stimulate growth. We have every intention of ramping up production in all areas of agriculture,” Mr. Shaw noted.
The Minister was addressing the virtual launch of Farmer’s Month on Thursday (April 9), where he outlined agricultural initiatives in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He noted that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has commenced islandwide distribution of agricultural inputs under the $240-million stimulus programme, aimed at purchasing excess produce from farmers.
He said that focus must now be placed on ramping up production and productivity, providing irrigation and other critical infrastructure, incorporating climate-smart approaches, and instituting comprehensive marketing and distribution programmes as well as “an invigorated agro-processing programme”.
Minister Shaw informed that during Farmer’s Month, H&L True Value will be donating $2 million worth of inputs to support any production and productivity initiatives being implemented by the Ministry, and giving special discounts of up to 10 per cent on most items for farmers and gardening enthusiasts.
The company has also offered to extend a discount of up to 15 per cent for farmers who have participated in the donation of produce to the quarantined communities, and the special programme to buy and redistribute excess farm products.
Mr. Shaw lauded farmers who donated $7.5 million worth of crops to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s relief efforts.
He implored farmers to step up production in order to ensure the nation’s food security at this time, noting that the planting of vegetables and fruits, condiments and spices, roots and tubers and field and forage crops “should never cease”.
“We look forward to planting season as we work together towards an abundant harvest ahead,” he said.
JIS News By GARFIELD L.ANGUS