Opposition Member of Parliament for Clarendon South Western, Lothan Cousins, has expressed concern over the significant increase in the cost of basic vegetables in Jamaica, stating that the majority of consumers are facing a crisis when shopping for groceries. This comes in response to a statement from the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, who announced a government allocation of $157 million to assist farmers affected by the flood rains associated with Tropical Cyclone 22 on November 17.
While acknowledging the impact of flood damage on agricultural yields, Cousins pointed out that data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) indicated a nine percent decrease in the July to September quarter compared to the same period in 2022. He emphasized that the shortfall was not solely attributed to the recent floods but was influenced by lower yields and reduced areas harvested, as reported by the PIOJ.
In response, Minister Green suggested that Cousins might have political motives behind his comments, though he later withdrew the suggestion. Green acknowledged the role of drought in lower yields but remained optimistic, noting that farmers and fishers are preparing for a good year despite the challenges.
The exchange underscores the challenges faced by Jamaica's agricultural sector, including weather-related disruptions and their subsequent impact on food prices, prompting discussions and responses from both political and agricultural stakeholders.