St Thomas agro-park farmers to get help
Farmers at the Plantain Garden River agro-park in St Thomas, who incurred losses during the recent heavy rains, are to receive assistance from the Government.
They will be given herbicides and cabbage, red pepper and hot pepper seeds and seedlings. The tractor that is used for land preparation will also be repaired.
The commitment was given by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson, who toured the park on Friday.
The tour provided the minister with a first-hand view of the operations and the challenges facing the farmers. Hutchinson said the herbicides were to be provided to the farmers by the weekend.
"Once that is in place, we are going to have the seeds and seedlings ready for them and we are going to make sure that they have a tractor that will be able to get the land prepared," he said.
Donald Bent, who cultivates crops at the park, said he is very appreciative of the commitment which the minister has made. "If we get that assistance, it will be able to bring us back on our (feet)," he said.
He pointed out that during the recent heavy rains, most of his crops, including onion, cucumber, melons and peppers, were destroyed.
Another farmer, Clarence Thompson, said although the rains have set them back, they are not daunted and will continue to cultivate crops in a bid to ensure the country's food security.
"We see ourselves as a group of farmers who should contribute significantly to the growth of the economy, and also put a dent in the food and fruits that we are importing," he added.
Thompson said the objective is to produce enough crops and become role models and a source of inspiration to other farmers, particularly young people. Some 60 farmers cultivate crops at the Plantain Garden River agro-park.
The agro-park initiative aims to modernise Jamaica's agricultural sector and contribute to reducing the island's almost US$1 billion food import bill, while increasing exports and creating jobs.