The rains that scoured the island earlier this month have resulted in almost $800-million in damage to the agricultural sector.
That’s according to Agriculture Minister, Karl Samuda.
The figure is an increase on the estimated $522-million in damage to the sector reported last week by Minister without portfolio in the Agriculture Ministry, J.C Hutchinson. That was only a preliminary estimate.
In a statement today, Minister Samuda says more than 10,000 farmers have been affected. He says losses amounted to an estimated $794-million.
The new figure comes as the government is still calculating the overall cost of the damage the recent rains have caused.
Preliminary figures released by the government indicate it’ll cost at least $3.4-billion to fix roads and drains damaged by rains since March.
The National Works Agency says there’s been $2.1-billion in damage since March.
The Local Government Ministry says there’s been $1.3-billion in damage to parochial infrastructure during the heavy rains earlier this month.
Speaking on ‘Nationwide This Morning’, Local Government Minister, Desmond McKenzie, said the figures are likely to increase.
In the meantime, the Agriculture Minister, Karl Samuda, says teams from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority are still on the ground conducting damage assessments as more areas become accessible.
He says logistics are also in place for agricultural inputs to be distributed to affected farmers.
And, the Opposition Spokesman on Labour and Social Security, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, is calling on the government to immediately release funds to help small farmers and micro businesses affected by recent flood rains.
He made the call in a statement to the media today, saying the government should provide the money from the first tranche of the short-term poverty intervention fund.
Dr. Ferguson, who is the Member of Parliament for Eastern St Thomas, says his appeal comes amid the devastation in the parish and the hardship facing farmers.
He says the government must respond to the plight of the small farmers, small businesses and senior citizens. He’s urging Prime Minister Holness and Labour and Social Security Minister, Shahine Robinson to act.
Dr. Ferguson says the release of the funds is critical at this time. He says it’s also important that there’s fairness in the allocation when granted.