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Jamaica drought leads to $8 million in crop losses

July 29, 2014

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A Jamaican official said Tuesday that a severe drought and brush fires on the Caribbean island have led to roughly $8 million in crop losses over the last few months.

Acting Agriculture Minister Derrick Keller said more than 16,000 of Jamaica’s small farmers have suffered losses. Some 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of farmland have withered from lack of rainfall and scorching temperatures.

“While the situation is serious,” Keller said, “it is not catastrophic.”

At a news conference in the capital of Kingston, he told reporters the total area of arable land under production is roughly 300,000 hectares (741,316 acres). The government has allocated about $266,000 to an agricultural agency to increase crop production in certain areas.

Most of the food consumed in Jamaica is imported. Keller said the island has “enough supplies” of staples such as plantains and potatoes.

“I am urging Jamaica not to panic as this government will ensure that through our own production and judicious imports we have adequate supplies of food,” he said.

In recent weeks, Jamaica announced that wasting water was illegal and prohibited people from filling up swimming pools and watering lawns.

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