KINGSTON, Jamaica: Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says enough agricultural produce will be available to supply the local consumer market.
He gave the assurance after assessing the damage to the agricultural sector from the heavy rains associated with the passage of Tropical Storm Nicole.
“I would say to Jamaicans and consumers generally, that there is no need to panic. We do have a fair amount of crops in the fields, crops that will be taken off in the weeks and months ahead to provide for consumer demand. Where there is some shortage, we will make provision to ensure that the necessary importation takes place to fill the gap,” said Dr. Tufton.
Tufton said the main focus is to ensure that farmers get the necessary assistance to “bounce back” quickly, noting that the recently launched loan scheme will greatly assist the process.
The loan scheme, which falls under the Financial Access for Responsible Members project, will be implemented in collaboration with the Development Bank of Jamaica and the National People’s Cooperative Bank. Farmers must be registered with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority to benefit.
While noting that damage assessments were still being conducted, Tufton said 10 to 15 per cent of protected agriculture had been destroyed, including some older-type greenhouses. He said that all the newer models of greenhouses remained intact.
In addition, Tufton said he would be “vigorously pursuing” the matter of long-term supply contracts for farmers from buyers of agricultural produce.