Farmers in South Manchester and South St. Elizabeth who have been affected by the beet army worm, have benefited from $17.5 million in support from the Government.
The farmers have lost some 150 acres of scallion, tomato, cucumber, callaloo, onion, and beetroot to the pest.
“We (are) assisting them with everything to get them back on their feet,” said Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson.
“This includes plant material; spray equipment; soil preparation, which includes plowing up of the land to remove the cocoons; seeds; soil preparation; fertilisers; and mist blowers, weed whackers, and other equipment to maintain the crop,” he informed.
He was speaking at the handover of the items at the New Forest/Duff House Water Users Association office in Manchester on Wednesday (May 31).
The Minister noted that the Association will have responsibility for the equipment, and the president of the entity will monitor their use.
“He can rent them out to the farmers for a reasonable fee on a daily or a weekly basis, depending on how large the acreage is; and in the event any of the equipment goes, the fees from the rental can replace or repair them,” he pointed out.
Mr. Hutchinson said the Ministry will also be facilitating training and public education in the areas of land preparation and mulching, to mitigate against any further outbreak of the beet army worm.
He urged the farmers to take advantage of the sessions, noting that poor farming practices were the main cause of the outbreak.
He commended the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Ministry’s Research and Development Unit for the work done in bringing the situation under control, and urged the farmers to do their part by adhering to the practices imparted.
The Minister informed that the RADA parish offices will be providing extension support to the farmers.
Article by: Peta Gay Rowe
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm