Christmas produce uncertain amid losses from recent heavy rains

Agriculture Minister Floyd Green
By Kimone Witter    
Hundreds of farmers have suffered financial losses in the aftermath of last week's flood rains, which will further negatively affect the availability of some produce for the Christmas season.
Agriculture Minister Floyd Green says farmers in St. Thomas, Portland, St. Elizabeth, St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. Andrew have been directly or indirectly affected by the severe weather.
Mr. Green told Radio Jamaica News that teams from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) have been conducting damage assessments since Saturday, with St. Thomas identified as the hardest hit parish. 
"Almost all the farming communities in St. Thomas have suffered tremendous loss. Seeing a lot of impact across East Rural St. Andrew, largely from land slippage in those areas, and about 400 farmers impacted through land slippage in the East Rural St. Andrew area - some of our banana and plantain farmers, our vegetable farmers. We've also seen significant damage in St. Catherine, parts of Bernard Lodge, Lakes Pen, Hartlands, and damage in Clarendon and St. Elizabeth," he outlined. 
The minister said the loss of crops is significant as many were ready for reaping.
The affected crops include hot pepper, sweet pepper, onion, cassava, sorrel, pak choi and lettuce. 
"The RADA team is still out looking to see how we can help farmers firstly. If there is any possibility of salvaging their crops, that's our first priority and then trying to put dollar values to the impact. So we do expect that before the end of this week, we will have a dollar amount, but I've already said to the team to start intervention as quickly as possible to see how we can get our farmers back planted again." 
The Agriculture Minister noted that the report from RADA will determine whether the government will turn to imports to boost availability of certain produce. 
Mr. Green said chicken farmers were also affected by the heavy rains. 

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