The National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) is an Agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. NIC was established in 1986 and became operational in May 1987. NIC’s main objectives are to manage, operate, maintain and expand existing and future irrigation schemes and systems, as may be established by the Government of Jamaica. The organisation provides irrigation services primarily to the agricultural sector as well as to some industrial and commercial users through some of its systems.
NIC obtains its authority from the Irrigation Act 1949, which makes provision for the utilisation of water available for the irrigation of special areas in Jamaica, and for the conservation and use of subterranean water for purposes incidental to or connected with that purpose. Section 4 (1) of the Irrigation Act grants the portfolio Minister the power subject to an affirmative resolution by the House of Representatives, to licence a company to be the Irrigation Authority. Such company shall be responsible for the implementation of the provisions of the Irrigation Act in relation to all irrigation and restricted areas for 10 years. The Minister has periodically granted such authority to NIC, the last being 2011. Section 5 of the Irrigation Act stipulates the general duties of the NIC:
- to make such investigations and surveys and do such work as may be necessary for the preparation of and to prepare and submit to the Minister one or more provisional irrigation schemes in relation to an irrigation area; and
- to do all such acts or things as may be necessary to be done to give effect to any confirmed irrigation scheme; and
- to manage, control and operate, subject to any directions given by the Minister, any irrigation works established in an irrigation area under any confirmed irrigation scheme and the distribution of water under such scheme; and
- to make such investigations to any matter affecting or relating to the irrigation of an irrigation area or any irrigation works therein as may be required by the Minister and if so required or without being so required if the Authority consider it expedient so to do to make recommendations to the Minister upon any such matter; and
- to prepare and submit to the Minister for approval a reclamation scheme in relation to an irrigation area.
All rates and fees charged for irrigation water by the NIC, by virtue of its licence, is determined by the Office of Utilities Regulation acting on advice of the Commission and subject to the approval of the Minister.