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Gov’t spending $1 billion to support farmers, fisherfolk


THE Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries has been allocated $1 billion to support farmers and fisherfolk in their recovery from the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This was disclosed by portfolio minister Audley Shaw during his contribution to the 2020/21 sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

“This $1-billion allocation will support the provision of equipment and machinery, such as tractors, bulldozers, backhoes and drones; infrastructure, such as greenhouses, post-harvest packing houses, shade houses and nurseries; and assistance to the livestock subsector, including poultry, pigs, and small ruminants,” Minister Shaw said.

The funds will also be used to assist the fisheries industry to include fingerlings, feed, fishing equipment and gear as well as refrigerated containers for storage.

“We have support for climate-smart production practices and technologies, including water and irrigation equipment, catchment areas and ponds, drainage and a seed bank programme,” Minister Shaw said.

“The irrigation equipment will be produced right here in Jamaica. There will be incentives for production to include purchase of excess produce from farmers, land preparation, seeds and other planting material, pest and disease management and soil analyses,” he added.

Meanwhile, the agriculture expansion programme, as articulated in the Five-Year National Strategy and Action Plan for the Agribusiness Industry, is aimed at implementing key priority programmes over the medium and long term.

“This will require significant investment in the sector. We are, therefore, targeting Phase Two of the US$42-million Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI II) Project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and being managed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, for possible financing in key priority areas in support of the ministry’s programmes,” Shaw said.

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