Minister Hutchinson Outlines Big Plans for Farmers with Excess Produce

April 1, 2020

J.C. Hutchinson, the Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Agriculture & Fisheries addressed a media briefing recently on the Ministry’s COVID-19 response plan. He said farmers with excess produce were identified. Excess produce will be purchased from them with the $240 million that was being made available by the government immediately.

In another move, he outlined that purchasers would use the existing connections, the storage and distribution mechanisms to purchase products from the farmers to move into the marketplace including large purchasers, with workers and communities.

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Hutchinson said the Ministry found many buyers and distributors with access to the necessary cold storage facilities and they indicated that they were willing to continue the purchase of agricultural produce from farmers and they will assist by purchasing produce at the farms and distribute to final markets.

He reported that, initial discussions were held with purchasers such as MarketFresh Ltd., Glastonbury Purveyors, and Ansel Golaub and Sons, who have indicated their willingness to use their systems and would organize a public-private partnership agreement to help the whole agricultural sector.

He said the Ministry, worked through RADA officers, and they were putting systems in place to support the movement of produce from farms to the factories.

The Ministry’s plan:
* Help was provided, and stakeholders are intensifying assistance to farmers to get their produce to the main markets.

* The Ministry asked the farmers who had produce and needed to get sale for them to contact their Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) parish offices. They will continue circulating the numbers and the farmers can also contact the Agri-Linkages Exchange at 876-970-0838;

The Minister had met with and got major supermarkets to make commitments to buy additional volumes of produce. MICAF and RADA marketing officers were working with purchasing managers to find the farmers who had produce so they could create and support the links between the farms and these buyers.

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The agro-processors were willing to increase their intake of items like pepper and scallion to be processed into mash. The Juice makers have also committed to, use more local products in their juices when it is possible, and they will process for storage as well. 

The Ministry works with RADA and will put the needed systems in place to support the transportation of produce to the factories and maintain the right output.

Many buyers and distributors with access to the necessary cold storage facilities have indicated that they were willing to continue purchasing agricultural produce from the farmers and assist the process of buying produce from farms and distribute to final markets are ready to do business.

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This is part of an immediate short-term plan for minimizing the threat of waste, and giving farmers the ability to bring fresh produce to market.

As it regards to excess supplies, due to the downturn in the Tourism Sector, it was reported that farmers donated 30,000 kgs of their produce valued at $7.5 million to the Covid-19 Assistance Program through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for distribution.

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RADA helped the farmers to sell approximately $15 million worth of their produce.


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