How the Jamaican government is helping farmers during COVID-19 outbreak

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Amid the rising COVID-19 cases worldwide, the Jamaican government has launched several initiatives to assist local farmers to weather the COVID-19 crisis.

Let’s take a look at how the island country is dealing with the problems of COVID-hit agriculture sector:

Over USD $6.8 million allocated

To date, more than USD 6.8 million dollars have been allocated to the agriculture
industry to stem the tide of losses that the sector is currently experiencing.

Buy-Back Program

The funds allocated are intended to be used to establish a “Buy-Back Program”, under which the Ministry of
Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries purchases the output from the
farmers at the market price and sells them to the consumers at a marginally lower price.

The goal of this program is to procure produce from growers who no longer have access to markets. Aimed at both farmers and fisheries, a part of the financial assistance is also geared towards identifying buyers or distributors who operate cold storage facilities.

Boosting Local Agri Output

Also, the country’s government aims to enhance its ability to boost local agricultural output in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and onwards.

‘Say Yes to Fresh’ Campaign

Moreover, the country’s Commerce Ministry has also introduced a new campaign called “Say Yes to Fresh” in order to encourage citizens to buy locally produced foods. So far, over 350 metric tons of produce have been sold through this initiative.

Emphasis on Value-Added Products

In addition, the Jamaican government is also encouraging consumers to increase their intake of produce like peppers and scallions, so that they could incorporate them into more value-added products.

Productive Input Relief Program

In April 2020, the Jamaica Customs Agency announced to extend the Productive Input Relief (PIR) program by 6 months to allow manufacturers to import raw materials without being subject to certain duties and taxes.

Reduction in Export Fees

To stimulate and promote growth and investment, the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority announced to reduce export fees
by 50% for several commodities, including coffee, cocoa and spices.

Resolution to prevent Price Gouging

In a bid to discourage price gouging i.e. charging too much in times of crisis, the country’s government passed a resolution to prosecute the offenders.