Tuesday 12 November, 2019

Government help promised to fire-hit farmers of Flagaman, St Elizabeth

State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Floyd Green (second left), engages in conversation with from left: RADA Parish Manager, St Elizabeth, Nathan Samuels; Minister without Portfolio in the ministry, JC Hutchinson; and Black River Mayor, Derrick Sangster, during a tour of farmlands which were destroyed by fire in Flagaman, St Elizabeth on August 16.

State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Floyd Green (second left), engages in conversation with from left: RADA Parish Manager, St Elizabeth, Nathan Samuels; Minister without Portfolio in the ministry, JC Hutchinson; and Black River Mayor, Derrick Sangster, during a tour of farmlands which were destroyed by fire in Flagaman, St Elizabeth on August 16.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson, has indicated that help is on the way for 47 farmers whose farms were recently devastated by fire in the community of Flagaman in St Elizabeth.

An assessment conducted by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) estimated the losses at $45 million.

Speaking on Tuesday after a tour of the affected areas, Hutchinson said the Government is moving to ensure that the farmers rebound as quickly as possible in an effort to prevent an increase in prices for fresh produce.

“We in the ministry will be doing whatever necessary. I have spoken with the permanent secretary and he is waiting for the assessment. It is difficult to get back into production, but we are going to see whatever way possible we can assist you in getting back some grass, because I understand that is the basic material that you want before you can even start,” he said.

In light of the extensive fire which destroyed farms on August 16, Hutchinson, along with Minister of State in the ministry, Floyd Green, toured farm areas of Flagaman to get a first-hand view of the damage.

Farmers lost various crops, as well as equipment, such as drip hoses and water storage tanks, in the disaster.

For his part, Green noted that the agricultural sector suffered significant losses as a result of the fire.

He said the Government is moving speedily to craft a programme of intervention.

“We will craft a programme in relation to how we can intervene… My hope is that we will be able to do that before the end of the week, so we can say to you, this is the methodology,” Green said.

In the meantime, one of the affected farmers, Zenora Davis, said she lost two acres of crops, and is eagerly awaiting the Government’s help to resume production.

“I lost… cantaloupe, watermelon and half acre of guinea grass. I lost about $2 million. We need Guinea grass first of all, because we can’t do anything without it,” she stated.

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