Portfolio Minister Derrick Kellier handed over thousands of suckers and corms (bulbo-tubers) during a ceremony held at the Orange River Agricultural Research Station in Highgate, St Mary, on Thursday.
Several bags of fertiliser were also distributed to the farmers.
The minister said the suckers are of the FHIA (Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agricola) variety, which offers higher yields and a lower cost of production than the common commercial types.
They are also resistant to the Black Sigatoka disease, which has been the most damaging and costly disease affecting banana in Jamaica.
This distribution followed a tour by the minister, of several farms in St Mary in September 2015, to assess the impact of the drought and establish strategies for mitigation. He was accompanied by teams from the Ministry, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Banana Board.
“As Minister, I know that your farming is your direct source of a livelihood and provides income for you and your families. For this reason, the Ministry of Agriculture is committed to doing everything in our power and on our fiscal capability to ensure the survival, growth and sustainability of the sector in this and other parishes,” Kellier said.
He said the Ministry is placing renewed focus on banana and plantain production and will be relaunching the revitalisation programme for the banana industry.
He informed that the Banana Board is targeting the distribution of 200,000 seedlings of new and common varieties of banana and plantains to approximately 1,400 farmers.
“The ministry is here to demonstrate the Government’s full support by providing the stimulus needed to help you recover from the prolonged drought of the past two years,” he said.
Kellier said the Ministry will also continue to provide irrigation and other needed infrastructure to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Member of Parliament for South East St Mary, Dr Winston Green, in his remarks at the ceremony, hailed the initiative as a “tremendous contribution”, as it will serve to revive the banana industry in the area.
He also commended the farmers for their resilience despite the challenges of the drought.