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Jamaica sets sights on Sandy banana recovery

Janet Conie, Gerneral Manager of the Banana Board in Jamaica, says that the agency will be putting its focus into helping growers to recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Mrs. Conie said the Board will be working very closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to ensure that resuscitation efforts are put in place as soon as possible "so that we will not have a very long period of decline in the supply to the domestic market and to our one export market, which is to Cayman."

She said that the level of damage was, in a lot of cases, one from which growers could recover quickly, provided the necessary support procedures were put in place.

"Banana resuscitation works best when it is done as quickly as possible. If you allow things to dry out, if you allow desiccation to set in, and this allows pests to come in then you end up with a much greater loss. So what we are trying to do is facilitate the earliest possible recovery," she said.

She said though that many growers had lost as much as 100% of their crops.

Farmers who had been contributing to the catastrophe fund will be receiving the assistance it provides. However, Conie says that the extent of the damage is such that more help will be required.

The Catastrophe Fund, which is a little over $50 million, is managed by the Banana Board and was established in 2007 to help with the speedy recovery of the island’s banana industry in the wake of natural disasters.

During a tour of farms in Portland yesterday (October 29), State Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Ian Hayles, gave the assurance that farmers, who contribute to the fund "will be dealt with early and efficiently."

The latest estimates indicate that close to 31,000 farmers across the island have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, with some 3,000 hectares of crops affected. The damage to the country’s agricultural sector is estimated at close to $2 billion.

Source: jis.gov.jm

Publication date: 11/1/2012


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