FARMERS have begun receiving assistance under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining’s $200-million drought-mitigation programme.
This was disclosed by portfolio minister Floyd Green while speaking on Good Morning, Minister, aired on Love 101 FM on Wednesday, August 30.
He advised that $104 million was allocated for trucking water, $48 million is earmarked to purchase three trucks, while other sums are programmed for the provision of mulch, seeds, planting material, and fertiliser, among other inputs.
“I’m happy to announce that one truck has already arrived, so we plan to commission that truck shortly. What happens during the drought is that we have to be competing to get private truckers, so we need our own assets,” Green explained.
Additionally, he said in recognition of the importance of efficient water management in agriculture, $10 million has been allocated to provide irrigation drip kits to some farmers.
Green advised that the ministry is also working with farmers to identify areas to harvest rainwater in ponds.
“A number of our yam planting areas do not have access to water, so you will see increases in the prices of yam and our vegetable lines. The good news is that we have gotten some rains and also our drought-mitigation programme is reaching some of our farmers. A lot of our vegetable farmers are back in planting mode now [cultivating] short-term crops, so in another month or so you should see some dissipation of [increased prices],” he said.
Green further noted that Jamaicans may also be paying elevated prices for produce due to declines in production.
“We have seen declines in production in the first and second quarters and we do project that there will be a decline in the third quarter. In 2021, we had our highest-ever production on record,” he said.
The sector recorded more than 800,000 tonnes of domestic crop production that year and more than 700,000 tonnes in 2022.
Minister Green noted that though there are declines, the numbers are in line with 2019 production levels.