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Jamaica facing serious domestic food-production decline - Green

Published:Tuesday | June 6, 2023 | 12:57 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer -

Jamaica is on track to record a decline in domestic crop production for the first half of the year, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Floyd Green disclosed during the recent staging of the annual Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show hosted by the Kingston and St Andrew Association of Branch Societies of the Jamaica Agriculture Society (JAS).

Delivering the keynote address at the event held on the playfield of the ministry’s Hope Gardens office, Green said the anticipated falloff in production is as a result of the prolonged drought which started last year.

He said that last October when the drought started, the country recorded a 21 per cent decline below the annual mean average of rainfall. This continued for the rest of the year and into 2023, with 33 per cent less rain in December, 68 per cent less rain in January, and 72 per cent less rainfall in February.

“The drought is having a tremendous impact on our farmers, and unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, it is clear to see that the first quarter of this year will record a decline in production for agriculture. In fact, based on the figures that I have already started to peruse, we will see, at minimum, a nine per cent decline in production in the first quarter of 2023, and I do expect that in the second quarter, we will see further declines in relation to agricultural production, largely because of the drought,” Green disclosed.

It was for this reason, the agriculture minister says that he has directed Permanent Secretary Dermon Spence to call an urgent meeting of all of the heads of agencies to discuss strategies to put more resources into drought mitigation. This, he says, is in addition to the $200 million already allocated.

“Clearly, after that meeting, I will update the media in relation to some of those short-term and long-term strategies that we will be putting in place to fight against the immediacy of the drought affecting our farmers and also engage in some long-term mitigation efforts.

“I know there is a lot of work to be done,” the minister of agriculture, fisheries and mining admitted.