Christmas supply of tubers, meat sufficient, says Green


Christmas supply of tubers, meat sufficient, says Green

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, November 26, 2020

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AGRICULTURE and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green is assuring the country that the food supply chain for the Christmas period remains stable, though challenges abound with crops of vegetable that were severely impacted by recent heavy rains.

Green gave the assurance during yesterday's virtual post-Cabinet press briefing from Jamaica House in St Andrew.

“We have been monitoring our food supply and our food supply chain for the Christmas, especially in light of the damage that has been done by the recent rains. The good news is that, in relation to our tubers, in relation to our meat products, we do have sufficient supply,” he said.

In fact, according to the minister, poultry production has exceeded expectations for the period, with the “largest amount of production of chicken that our country has ever seen”.

He said, too, that production levels for the two major poultry producers are higher than pre-COVID-19 levels.

“We do have sufficient supply of pork and we do have a good supply of another popular thing at Christmas time, which is goat meat. So, in relation to livestock, we are in good stead,” the minister said.

“We expect to see a good supply of our tubers — our yams, our potatoes [and] our sweet potatoes should be in good supply. Where we're going to have some challenges are [with] our vegetable crops,” he noted.

Green said that there has been significant damage to tomato crops, cucumbers, lettuce, and cabbage.

“We do expect to see a break in the supply chain in relation to those crops. As such, what we have been doing, we've asked RADA [Rural Agricultural Development Authority] to continue their assessment. We will be looking to see how bad the break in the supply chain is and if there needs to be any alternative methodology to ensure that we do have sufficient supplies for Christmas.

“So we are watching very carefully, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, cantaloupes, squash, zucchini, and cauliflower, to see if there needs to be any supplemental supply to ensure that we have sufficient supply for the Christmas,” he said.

Meanwhile, he again mentioned that 14,000 farmers have been impacted by the recent rains, with the economic loss totalling $2.5 billion. Three thousand hectares of agricultural lands were affected.

“We have provided a response. Our initial response is $646.9 million, and that is in relation to emergency relief from our budget. We have reallocated some of our funds,” said Green.

Of the figure, $200 million is to be spent on infrastructure, with 17 farm roads earmarked for rehabilitation across hard-hit parishes. Maintenance work is also scheduled for other farm roads that were also damaged.

He said another $200 million will be spent on planting items and inputs. Of that $200 million, $40 million is expected to be spent refurbishing greenhouses and catchment facilities. Another $95 million is expected to be used to support farmers with insecticides and fungicides, while $30 million should be spent on fertilisers.

“The methodology to get these items to farmers will be a mixed methodology. The majority of the funds will be run through RADA, with support from the JAS [Jamaica Agricultural Society]. We have also brought in our Members of Parliament. Every farmer that benefits will have to fill out a needs assessment form and a beneficiary assessment form. We want to ensure that the farmers that [suffered] damage are getting the benefit,” said Green.

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