Gov’t to aid farmers with $240m provision for excess produce purchases
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is to alleviate the worries of local farmers with excess produce through the allocation of $240 million to purchase the excess crops.
The farmers have been hit hard since the Government imposed a number of measures to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some of which affected the tourism industry that has since been on lockdown.
The initiative by the ministry is to allow for the purchasing of the fruits and vegetables that would have been sent to the hotels by the farmers, which are to be redistributed to other areas locally.
According to Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson, the purchasing of the produce is to begin immediately, and is to be coordinated by the Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA).
Speaking at a press conference at the ministry’s Hope Garden offices on Tuesday, Hutchinson said “purveyors would utilise the existing collection, storage and distribution mechanisms to purchase produce from farmers and move into the marketplace, including large purchasers, communities and work places.”
The ministry is also set to assist in identifying buyers and distributors with cold storage facilities, who are willing to purchase the fruits and vegetable from the farmers and assisting in purchasing produce at the farm level and distributing to final markets.
According to the ministry, agro-processors have also increased the purchase of pepper and scallion, which are to be processed into mash.
Juice makers are also expected to use more local produce in their products, as well as to increase their storage.