Jamaica Information / Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda (left), listens to banana and plantain farmer from Caenwood in Portland, Winsome Crossdale, during a tour of her farm on February 1, which was ravaged by recent heavy rains. + – Photo: Donald De La Haye Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda (left), listens to banana and plantain farmer from Caenwood in Portland, Winsome Crossdale, during a tour of her farm on February 1, which was ravaged by recent heavy rains. Story Highlights Farmers in Portland who were severely impacted by recent heavy rains are to benefit from support to begin replanting and to protect their lands against flooding. Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon, Karl Samuda, said that $30 million was allocated by Cabinet to assist the farmers to purchase seeds, fertilisers and other materials. Addressing a farmers’ meeting at the Orange Bay Church of God of Prophecy in the parish on February 1, following a tour of the flood-ravaged farms, the Minister indicated that measures will be taken to protect farm lands in Caenwood and Lennox that run adjacent to the Swift River.

Farmers in Portland who were severely impacted by recent heavy rains are to benefit from support to begin replanting and to protect their lands against flooding.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon, Karl Samuda, said that $30 million was allocated by Cabinet to assist the farmers to purchase seeds, fertilisers and other materials.

He informed that $25 million will be provided to assist in the rehabilitation of farm roads, such as those in Lennox and Claverty Cottage, among other sections.

Addressing a farmers’ meeting at the Orange Bay Church of God of Prophecy in the parish on February 1, following a tour of the flood-ravaged farms, the Minister indicated that measures will be taken to protect farm lands in Caenwood and Lennox that run adjacent to the Swift River.

He said that gabion baskets will be installed in order to “prevent the water from coming over the bank of the river and flooding the area”.

These cylindrical steel wire baskets, filled with stones or concrete blocks, are used to protect slopes and provide erosion protection for river banks.

Minister Samuda said the issue of farm drainage will also be addressed.

“The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has to now look at the acquisition of small tractors, small excavators that can be loaned to the farmers under the control of a single operator per tractor to go through those banana fields and clear drains and prepare new drains,” he said.

RADA Chairman, Michael Stern, said his agency is fast-tracking the assistance, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to the 298 farmers that were affected. “RADA is committed to working with you to make an impact on the economic development,” he said.

For his part, Member of Parliament for West Portland, Hon. Daryl Vaz, assured that “we’re going to try and help all who have suffered damage to get back on their feet”.

He hailed Newport-Fersan Jamaica Limited for its contribution of fertiliser to the farmers, and appealed for further private-sector support.

He mentioned that China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited has been called on to desilt some areas of the Swift River.

Meanwhile, Mr. Vaz, who is Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, said that the Government will be examining every parish to “see what leases the Commissioner of Lands has for large parcels of land for farming”.

“Where we see that they are not being utilised to the maximum, we will allow the lessee to keep what he can manage and redistribute by way of lease one- to five-acre lots, for the small farmers of Jamaica,” he said.

Mr. Vaz emphasised that there needs to a “taking back” of the lands that are being left idle.

The touring party visited farms at Caenwood and Lowlayton, where they observed waterlogged farms with downed banana and plantain trees, and was able to meet with the affected farmers to work out solutions.

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