The Banana Board has commenced distribution of fertiliser to 2,573 banana and plantain farmers who were impacted by the passage of Tropical Storm Grace in August.
General Manager of the Banana Board, Janet Conie, told JIS News that the provision is being made through a $50-million grant from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at no cost to the farmers.
It will assist in resuscitating approximately 608 hectares of damaged farms.
“We purchased over 7,000 bags of fertiliser with the funds, and we are distributing them proportionately for the areas that are damaged… . Every farmer whose [crop] has been damaged will get fertiliser, and it is based upon the area of the farm that is damaged,” she explained.
Ms. Conie said that all parishes were affected, except Kingston and St. Andrew, with the industry sustaining approximately 39 per cent damage.
Local blender and supplier of fertiliser, Newport-Fersan (Jamaica) Limited is providing the product.
“We negotiated the best price and a formulation of the fertiliser that is needed. Banana Board does testing and sampling for the farmers to ensure that they put together the best formulation of fertiliser. The formulation that they are getting is the formulation that is needed based on testing and sampling,” Ms. Conie noted.
She said that the recovery of the sector is critical in ensuring sustained food supply locally as well as to minimise the impact of the damage on the projected growth of the sector.
“For bananas and plantain, you have to resuscitate quickly to get the desired yield. If you wait too long, then it doesn’t help; you [will essentially be] starting over. It takes nine months to get back to where we were, so we have to move quickly,” Ms. Conie noted.
The Ministry is aiding with transportation for the distribution of the fertiliser. The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is providing storage and distribution support through its extension offices.
WRITTEN BY: ROCHELLE WILLIAMS
SOURCE: JIS news