Jamaica News: The Government is spending $240 million to purchase excess produce from farmers impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Making the announcement at a digital press briefing on Tuesday (March 31), Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, said the measure is to begin with immediate effect.
Mr. Hutchinson noted that the objective is to bring fresh produce to market and minimise the threat of waste, resulting from the fall-off in demand from the tourism sector, due to COVID-19.
He said the Ministry is aware that some farmers, who would normally supply the hotel and hospitality sectors, have had excess supplies of fruits and vegetables available for redistribution to local consumers.
“Working with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), farmers with excess produce have been identified. Purveyors will utilise the existing collection, storage and distribution mechanisms to purchase produce from farmers and move them into the marketplace, including large purchasers and communities,” he informed.
Mr. Hutchinson said that the Ministry has identified several buyers and distributors with access to cold storage facilities who have indicated their willingness to continue the purchase of produce from farmers for distribution to final markets.
“Initial discussions have been held with purveyors such as Glastonbury Purveyors, Market Fresh Limited, and Ansel Golaub and Sons, which have indicated their willingness to utilise their systems in a public-private partnership agreement to assist the agricultural sector,” he noted.
In addition, he said that Ministry representatives have met with and received commitments from major supermarkets to purchase additional volumes of produce.
Mr. Hutchinson informed, as well, that the Ministry and RADA marketing officers have been working with purchasing managers to identify sources of produce and to create and support the linkages between the farmers and their buyers.
“We have met with agro-processors who, where possible, have increased their intake of items like pepper and scallion to be processed into mash. Juice makers have also committed to, where possible, utilise more local products in their juices as well as to process for storage,” he said.
He added that the Ministry, through RADA, is putting systems in place to support the movement of produce to the factories.
Farmers with produce for sale are advised to contact their RADA parish offices and parish marketing officers as well as the Agri-Linkages Exchange at 876-970-0838.
Source: JIS News