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Damage estimates to agricultural sector could climb higher when a true picture emerges

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society Lenworth Fulton says damage estimates relating  to the agricultural sector  as a result of the recent heavy rains could  climb higher when a true picture emerges. 

Mr. Fulton made that observation less than 24 hours after the island was hit by further rainfall. 

Since last week Jamaica has been experiencing rains as a result of the outer bands associated with Tropical Storm Ian.

Those rains have created a nightmare for farmers, especially in  Clarendon, Manchester and St. Elizabeth.

Mr. Fulton  says the preliminary estimate of 200 hundred million dollars in crop damage is set to go higher. 

He says, while farmers have received word about promised Government assistance, the concerns are real, especially with regard to replanting "..they generally plant by buying the seedlings, whether its lettuce or cabbage or tomato, will they have seedlings available from the companies they buy from to replant?" He added that they are being pushed in a corner to supply sufficient vegetables for the Christmas season.

He says, while there is still some time to replant, the financial loss is heavy particularly in relation to crops such as lettuce, tomato and sorrel. 

Brace for price increase

Jamaica Agricultural Society President  says householders can brace for price increases for some vegetables and other crops. 

Mr. Fulton says he hopes that any increase will not be out of reach of the average consumer.

Despite the grim picture, Mr. Fulton says he remains optimistic that the farmers will witness a rebound in crop production "...not all parishes were as  badly hit as some..and the soil is saturated so it will generate a quick grow back."

Assistance coming for farmers

Agriculture Minister Pearnel Charles Junior has confirmed that assistance will be provided to affected farmers.

He says he's awaiting a breakdown to complete the assessments to determine how best to give support to those persons who have been affected.

Mr. Charles stressed that the damage to the sector is another reminder that farmers must be resilient against shocks, as many who implemented "resilient operations" were spared losses.