Ninety-seven farmers in the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Patrick, who were significantly affected due to the freak weather system that occurred last month, can now breathe a sigh of relief as a special ceremony is being planned before the Christmas holiday to compensate them for at least half of their losses.
Speaking to reporters last week Friday, Minister for Agriculture, Yolande Bain-Horsford said the total value of the damages was estimated at “EC$400, 000 plus,” and that due to financial constraints, the government has agreed to generate the monies from an “emergency fund that the government has.”
The female Agriculture Minister said, “a ceremony (is being planned for) sometime next week and we would invite them all to come and collect their cheques.”
Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, who did not provide a detailed analysis in announcing the compensation package in his 2017 Budget statement, told reporters in an interview after the presentation, that “the farmers know that government could not pay everything that was estimated so we agreed to pay 50% (of the damages sustained) to all the farmers because we know some of them invested in short crops production for Christmas”.
“So we felt that we should give them payments before Christmas,” Dr. Mitchell added.
The farmers reportedly lost most of their Christmas crops such as sorrel and pigeon peas in places like Pointzfeild, River Sallee, Madeys and Chambord in St Patrick and La Poterie, Blaize, Mt. Horne, Mirabeau, Pearls, La Fillette, Paradise, Tivoli, Dumfermline and Paraclete in St. Andrew.
Additionally, at least nine farmers suffered damages to their irrigation systems due top the bad weather.
During a post-Cabinet press briefing held last month, the Agriculture Minister reported that some “houses were also damaged during the heavy rainfall” and that the “Ministry of Housing (had embarked on) an assessment to determine the damages sustained.”
Minister Bain-Horsford announced that the Ministry of Works had approached the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for funding support” for those affected.