Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, says he will be seeking additional funding in the 2018/19 Budget to repair more cane and farm roads, as well as to acquire equipment for small farmers.
Speaking with journalists during a tour of several farms and farm roads in St. Mary on Wednesday (February 7), Mr. Samuda advised that he will be looking to secure a minimum $1 billion for road repairs, which would double the allocation in the 2017/18 budget.
“You can’t (engage) in agriculture effectively and efficiently if you can’t reach the fields (or if) when you have grown the crops, you can’t get them to the markets,” the Minister said.
“Infrastructure is key, so I have already given notice that I intend to apply and press as hard as I can for a minimum of twice the amount we are spending this year, which is just under $500 million,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Samuda said the Ministry will also be seeking funding to purchase equipment for farmers cultivating small acreages of land, who experience challenges accessing the inputs that would enable them to operate more efficiently.
Emphasising the need for units that are “nimble but very efficient”, Mr. Samuda said these include small ploughs, harvesters and fertiliser applicators, which could be loaned to the farmers.
The Minister pointed out that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) would be responsible for managing, maintaining and safeguarding the equipment, to ensure that “we do not suffer the experiences of the past, where they (equipment) are just languishing somewhere, broken down and unattended”.
Mr. Samuda’s tour included visits to the communities of Albion Mountain, Chovey and Gibraltar along with representatives of the Ministry and RADA.
The Minister was shown several crops under cultivation and equipment utilised in the process.
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