Government has come good for the farming sector – Fulton
JAMAICA AGRICULTURAL Society (JAS) President Lenworth Fulton has said the Government has come good for the agricultural sector, having set aside J$1 billion in the 2020-2021 Budget to keep the sector afloat amid the onset of COVID-19.
“In a recast of the Budget, the minister of finance announced a $1-billion inclusion to assist farmers,” said Fulton, in an interview with The Gleaner during last Friday’s Trelawny Farmers’ Market at Hague Showgrounds.
“A programme to decide how farmers will benefit will be written by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). We at JAS will have an input. Farmers will have to prove that they suffered both from the drought and COVID-19 to benefit,” added Fulton.
In addition to the sum allotted in the Budget, Fulton said the Government has also found other novel ways to help farmers, some of whom have suffered significant losses.
“The Government has spent $240 million to purchase produce from farmers from right across the island. Over 300 farmers have benefited and we are grateful,” said Fulton.
“All parish agricultural shows, except for The Hague Agricultural Show, have been either cancelled or scaled down. The oldest and largest agricultural show in the English-speaking Caribbean, the Denbigh Agricultural Show, which started in 1952, will be scaled down, and that will be a big setback for our finances and plans,” added Fulton.
According to Fulton, the Denbigh show, which is normally staged over three days, featuring numerous exhibitors, will be no more than a small family show this year.
“The show will be non-traditional. It will be more of a family day for farmers. The plans include a multifaceted farmers’ market with the sale of meats and eggs, among other items,” said Fulton. “Video presentations from farmers, who have animals for sale, will be shown. Suppliers of insecticides, fertilisers, and vehicles for farmers will be part of the video presentations. Farmers will watch these videos and make plans going forward,” said Fulton.