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Robertson – Assistance coming to Banana, Plantain farmers

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Banana and Plantain farmers will soon receive assistance in the form of fertilizer within the coming three weeks to ensure the industry returns to the 2009 production levels and a very competitive banana industry.{{more}}

That’s according to Chief Agricultural Officer, Reuben Robertson, in a statement made last week, while commending the hard-working farmers who have done exceptionally well in their commitment to sustain the banana and plantain industry.

He said while there are some increases in production, it is important to get the highest quality by timely fertilization, with the right types of fertilizer and proper management of the Black Sigatoka disease. He said farmers would receive two sacks of fertilizer per acre to rehabilitate their fields.

Robertson said Government has made available four categories of income support of $4.5 million of which $1.183 million was paid out to farmers for the cutback of bananas due to the black Sigatoka disease, $588.800 paid to plantain farmers as compensation, and $2.86 million for the four categories of income support.

He said these monies were provided to assist the farmers to overcome the turbulent times and upgrade their banana and plantain fields. Additionally, farmers who had to cutback their fields also received at least two sacks of fertilizer per acre.

The Chief Agricultural Officer said so far two of the three-targeted cycles of aerial spraying have been completed, which reduced the level of infestation from 9.5 to 5.2.

He further stated that spraying alone cannot control the disease and the farmers must take responsibility for the management of their fields, as it is costing the government between $8,000 to10,000 a day to operate the ground crew and approximately $400,000 to $550,000 for every aerial cycle which is an enormous amount to sustain the vital banana and plantain industry.

Robertson commended those farmers who are trying to upgrade their farms and encouraged them to continue in their efforts to sustain the industry. However, he said there are some farmers who collected income support and compensation and have done absolutely nothing to improve their farms and he called on them to cut back their abandoned fields or allow persons to graze their animals in the field in order to reduce the spread of the disease.

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