The government is planning to pump $300,000 into the agricultural sector in response to last year’s hurricanes, which caused local agriculture workers to suffer collective losses of roughly $13 million.
These were the findings of a Department of Conservation and Fisheries assessment, which Agriculture Minister Dr Kedrick Pickering released in the House of Assembly on Thursday.
Dr Pickering said the figures represent the ‘state’ of the fishing and farming sectors combined.
In the fishing industry, the assessment was done among 78 fishermen whose losses ranged from fishing pots to their fishing boats.
“The monetized losses range from just a couple thousands of dollars in the case of fish pots, to approximately $70,000 in the case of a vessel. The total value of these losses adds up to approximately $3 million,” he said.
He said the sports fishing sector suffered a ‘major setback, as a result.
The assessment said local farmers suffered a combined loss of approximately $10 million.
It collated information from 126 farmers who lost livestock, poultry, crops and infrastructure.
“The entire territory suffered greatly. Therefore, the available funds needed to be spread across many areas to jump-start the recovery efforts. The combined industry of agriculture and fisheries was allotted $300,000 to assist the farmers and fishermen,” he explained.
Dr Pickering said, after ‘much deliberations’, the sector will see more assistance.
Stakeholders will be assisted with water tanks, fencing posts, fencing wire, and other farming supplies. The Department of Agriculture will also be making low-cost fruit trees available to farmers.
Fisherfolk will also receive fish pot wire, hooks, ropes, lines, among other things.
The minister said, as the country continues on its rebuilding thrust, it will be difficult for ‘fragile’ sectors such as agriculture which does not carry insurance to bounce back.
He vowed to continue to ‘explore all available opportunities’ to rebuild and grow the sector.
Back in December, Dr Pickering told farmers and fishermen at a public meeting, they had been effectively placed at the bottom of the priority list and may not see any form of financial assistance till the ‘second quarter’ of 2018.
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