AUDIO: Acting Agriculture Minister Says No Food Shortage But These 10 Farmers Say Otherwise:


Farmers from five of the country’s most agriculturally intensive parishes, say there is a shortage of many food items.

This due to the drought conditions which have been affecting the island since the start of the year.

Nationwide This Morning spoke with ten farmers, all of whom say there is a shortage of fresh produce.

The report from the farmers, differs from that given to the country by Acting Agriculture Minister, Derrick Kellier, at a media briefing on Tuesday.

As we hear in this report from Kalilah Enriquez, contrary to the Minister’s assertion, the farmers are saying that there is a food shortage in the country.

Three farmers; Nigel Mills of Watt Town, St Ann, and Clayton Collins and Wilbert Bailey, both of Craighead in Manchester, all insist there is a shortage of agricultural produce.

Mills grows sweet potatoes, corn and yam.

He says he and other farmers in his community have no corn this year and very little sweet yam.

They’ve also lost lettuce, carrots and peas, while the yield on Irish potatoes is poor.

Sweet potatoes are the only crop that has weathered the drought.

Mills says his usual yield of 3-thousand pounds of yam, is now down to less than a third, at just 800 pounds.

Clayton Collins has lost 60-percent of his yam crop and says that which remains is not of good quality.

Wilbert Bailey says buyers are offering 100-dollars a pound for his yams, but he doesn’t have any to sell, even after spending 115-thousand dollars on inputs for this crop.

In the breadbasket parish of St. Elizabeth, it’s even worse.

Julianne Russell of Flagaman District in the southwestern section of the parish says she’s struggling to scrape together 100 pounds of canteloupe.

Under normal conditions she would produce about 3-thousand pounds of the fruit.

Canteloupe is the only crop she has left. Her scallions, watermelons and cabbage have all perished.

She’s now struggling to provide for her family, as food prices have gone up at the market, and back-to-school time is near.

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Sean Taylor of Bluntas in South St. Elizabeth is fortunate to benefit from an irrigation system.

But even that, he says, hasn’t entirely mitigated the drought.

In Hanover and Trelawny, the farmers with whom we spoke are faring no better.

William Shippy of Ramble, Hanover says he’s reaping about half the peppers he normally would.

Antell Williams of Low River, Trelawny says his current crop of yams have survived, but the next crop, which was to be reaped in late August or September, has already been lost.

The testimonials fly in the face of claims by the Acting Agriculture Minister, Derrick Kellier.

At a press conference this week, Minister Kellier said while there has been a fall in production, there is no shortage of agricultural items.

He urged farmers that have access to irrigation systems, and those living in areas that have been getting rain, to step up production.

But it’s obvious, farmers everywhere are feeling the burn.