RADA assessing flood damage to farmlands, says Green


RADA assessing flood damage to farmlands, says Green

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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NEW FOREST, Manchester — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green says the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is now carrying out an assessment of the impact of recent heavy rain on the agriculture sector.

“We have already dispatched our RADA teams throughout the country to do an assessment of the damage. Clearly, our first [move] is to assess the number of farmers impacted, the extent of the impact, and then to develop a special intervention,” he said by telephone on Monday.

Green, who is Member of Parliament for the farm-rich St Elizabeth South Western constituency, said the ministry is prepared to support farmers.

“Our plan is to look at the funds that we have available in our production incentive programme and redirect some of those funds into providing quick and substantial assistance to our farmers, but first we need to assess the extent of the damage and then to see what funds we have available to provide support,” he said.

He is confident that despite the challenging times facing the sector with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the impact of the rain, farmers will bounce back.

“I think our farmers are aware that, as far as possible, the ministry stands ready to support them. We know this is a very trying time for our farmers, especially with all that has [been] happening in relation to COVID-19, so the rains have really come at the worst possible time. But we also know that our farmers are resilient and that we will work together to ensure that we will get over this and to ensure that, as quickly as possible, our farmers can be back out into the field,” Green said.

His comments came hours after the Jamaica Observer spoke with farmers in the New Forest/Duff House area of Manchester Southern, which has hundreds of farmers, many of whom have been severely impacted by flooding.

Farm workers Sheldon Simpson and Wayne Ashman told the Business Observer on Monday that a section of their farm reserved for growing thyme was severely impacted.

“The water run off the road and into the garden. It push weh everything...Everything gone a gully,” Simpson said.

“Thyme is $350 a pound and see it deh, everything gone. A $5,000 you have to pay a day to plant it, so it is a big loss. One garden of melon over deh suh, it done wid. Every week a $40,000 to spray it. Right now, a strong faith we have mek wi deh yah this morning. We mash up right now,” Ashman stressed.

Farmer Stafford Banton, who plants scallion, thyme, sweet potato, and cassava, is pleading for assistance from the Government.

“Every sweet cassava mash up and dem never ready. A whole heap a lick wi a get. It nuh mek sense RADA come and give we a small bag of fertiliser [because] that cyaa help we yah suh. This yah time yah, dem haffi dig deep and come wid some good assistance fi we the farmers,” he said.

“If dem nuh assist wi, the country a go collapse, because there is nothing a go deh fi go a market. Here suh inna New Forest send the most produce go a Coronation Market and supply hotel chain. Wi a lef everything inna the hands of the Government,” he went on.

In the neighbouring community of Duff House, Vancliff Simpson said he and his family lost two and a half acres of crops to floodwaters.

“The floodwater come down and cover everything. We did have thyme, scallion, cabbage, and cucumber on two and a half acres. From 1986 we affected every time it floods. The water come down from Dunder Hill and Comma Pen to down here,” he said.

“It is a hard bounce back because everything mash up yah suh,” he added.

Communities in southern Manchester and the neighbouring southern St Elizabeth are among the top suppliers of Jamaica's domestic farm produce.

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