KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sept. 29, 2021 - The Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture, Mr Lothan Cousins, MP, urges the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to expedite its investigation into and remedy the current disease affecting melon and cantaloupe crops. Mr Cousins said it is becoming a devastating period for farms stricken by the disease.
In a statement today, Mr Cousins said the farmers have been awaiting the results of the Ministry’s investigations since 2020 with no revised information to date. He said the farmers have been suffering badly during this time, mainly because they had increased their acreages to satisfy the demand for the rebounding tourism industry. As a result, they fear that hotels may now turn to the importation of these precious fruits.
The Opposition spokesman calls on the new Minister of Agriculture to devise a compensatory mechanism to incentivize the farmers to re-invest in another crop to save their farms. “The farmers have many stories of hardship, and Jamaica cannot afford a decline in domestic production if the risk aversion causes withdrawal,” he said.
He said this issue requires focused leadership to direct the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to conclude their study and work with the farmers in the field to prevent imminent disaster with melons and, to a lesser extent, cantaloupe. In some instances, he said, farmers complained of not getting quality supply for two years.
Among the issues are rotting crops in the field, melons going bad after one to three days, despite the fruit having a healthy appearance.
The farmers have no more time to waste.