Improvements to water system to continue — PM

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government will continue to improve water systems islandwide to ensure residents’ access to the amenity, as it is pivotal to the country attaining significant economic growth and development.

Mr Holness was speaking at the launch of the Essex Valley Agriculture Project at Lititz Primary School in St Elizabeth last Wednesday

The project, which represents one of the largest investments in irrigation infrastructure in Jamaica, will impact the livelihoods of over 700 farmers on 718 hectares of land, through the provision of irrigation water and improved access to local and global agricultural markets.

Prime Minister Holness also indicated that the neighbouring Hounslow Water Supply Project is to be completed in another six weeks.

“So another set of farmers and domestic households in this area [Lititz] will have access to potable water,” he stated.

The Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project is being funded at a cost of £35. 5 million by the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund, through the Caribbean Development Bank, and seeks to enhance the productivity of farmers in the Essex Valley, in a socially inclusive, gender equitable and climate sensitive manner.

Meanwhile, Holness advised that repairs have been completed on one of two damaged National Water Commission (NWC) pipelines beneath Mandela Highway which serve sections of the Kingston Metropolitan Area.

This, he said, is expected to alleviate challenges residents of Kingston and St Andrew are currently experiencing with their water supply.

The other broken 18-inch pipeline, which runs 35-feet beneath the highway will take another three months to be replaced, Holness said.

“We have assessed the issues [and] we will have to abandon that and run new lines. When that is done, Kingston will be adequately and sustainably served,” Holness said.



Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaks at the launch last Wednesday of the Essex Valley Agriculture Project, at Lititz Primary School in St Elizabeth. (Photo: JIS)


Source: Jamaica Observer

Published: January 21, 2019


Prime Minister Calls for More Jamaicans to Get Involved in Agriculture

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has heightened the call for more Jamaicans “from all walks of life” to venture into agriculture, emphasising that the sector is an important contributor to the growth of the Jamaican economy.

“We should never limit agriculture, because the moment that we limit agriculture to being merely a manual and domestic endeavour, then we limit ourselves and the potential for growth. Make no mistake, agriculture is big business, and it should run the gamut,” the Prime Minister said.

He was speaking at the official launch of the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project, held at the Lititz Primary School in St. Elizabeth, on January 16.

“We must dispense with the historical and social issues that have limited our perception and our understanding of agriculture. As I stand here, I want to tell you… I want to go into farming. I believe it is one of the most rewarding and noble endeavours, and we want more Jamaicans from all walks of life, whether you wear a bush jacket or fancy shirt or jacket and tie, to get involved. All of us must put our hands in the soil and turn it and create some value,” Mr. Holness said.

The project, which represents one of the largest investments in irrigation infrastructure in Jamaica, will impact the livelihoods of over 700 farmers on 718 hectares of land, through the provision of irrigation water and improved access to local and global agricultural markets.

Mr. Holness said that the Government, through “vertical integration”, will seek to spur growth in the agricultural sector, through infrastructural improvements and increasing investment in the sector.

“For agriculture to grow, you must look at what is called vertical integration. You must create not just production opportunities of the crop but you have to create the processing facilities and infrastructure. On top of that, you have to create the markets for the distribution, and then you have to parallel with that, the financial systems to support it,” he argued.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the British government for funding the Essex Valley Development project, stating that any investment in agriculture will propel the country to economic independence.

“Let me say thanks to the British government for its consideration and funding this project through the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF). This is the kind of support that is going to move the needle,” Mr. Holness said.

The Essex Valley development is being funded through a grant of £35.5 million from the UKCIF, which is administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

In addition to improving irrigation systems, the project entails other components to boost agriculture in Essex Valley.

These include training for farmers and other stakeholders in food-safety standards and climate-smart agriculture practices; design and construction of a photovoltaic plant to power the irrigation system and related administrative buildings; financing for a climate vulnerability assessment study to enhance the sustainability of the systems developed under the project; development of guidelines to support the participation of men, women, youth and persons with disabilities; and an operational plan to enhance the viability and sustainability of the facilities and services.

Ground was also broken for the development of six irrigation wells that will supply water for the project.



Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (second left); and Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw (third left), unveil a sign at the well site for the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project in Lititz, St. Elizabeth, following the launch of the project on Wednesday, January 16. Sharing the moment (from left) are Head of the United Kingdom Department for International Development in the Caribbean, Stefan Kossoff; British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad; Member of Parliament for South Manchester, Michael Stewart; President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. William Smith; and Member of Parliament for South East St. Elizabeth, Franklyn Witter.


Source: Jamaica Information Service

January 17, 2019

National Irrigation Commission Awards over $1 Million in Scholarships

Ten students whose parents are employed to the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) have benefited from more than $1 million in scholarships and book vouchers under the entity’s 2018/2019 Scholarship Awards Programme.

At an awards ceremony held at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Andrew on Thursday (December 6), scholarships valued at $100,000 each were presented to secondary-level students Ackeem Austin, Jhaneel Burrell, Jamier Ferguson, Tiana Gordon and Sherice Hylton.

In addition, tertiary-level students Josan Munroe, Martina Taylor and David Thomas received awards valued at $150,000 each.

The students will receive 75 per cent of the award now and the remaining 25 per cent next term, on the condition that they maintain at least a 60 per cent average.

Additionally, book vouchers for $50,000 each were provided to Mikhail McDowell and Crystal Laird for commendable Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) results.

Chairman of the NIC, Senator Aubyn Hill, who brought remarks at the awards ceremony, encouraged the students to stay on the path of excellence.

“You increase your chances of getting a job… . This passport scholarship opens the door for our Jamaican young people to cease this global opportunity to access work anywhere it is available in the world. The NIC is doing its part in preparing you to realise these opportunities and achieve some of your missions,” he said.

In an interview with JIS News, scholarship awardee Ackeem Austin, who is a tenth-grade student at Denbigh High School, said he is elated to have been chosen for an award. Ackeem aspires to be an electrical engineer in the future.

“I feel proud of myself and proud to be an NIC scholarship recipient. It is good that companies help children to fund their academics, so they can be good men and women in the society,” he said. 

The awardees were chosen by a selection committee comprising both internal and external members of NIC’s management, unionised staff delegates, the unions representing the workers, and an educator.

Since 1998, the programme has been assisting children of staff members and is part of the agency’s outreach activities.


Chairman of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Senator Aubyn Hill (left), presents a cheque to University of Technology (UTECH) student, Josan Munroe, during the entity’s scholarship awards ceremony held at the Four Seasons Hotel, St. Andrew, on Thursday (December 6). The NIC handed out more than $1 million in scholarships and book vouchers under its 2018/2019 Scholarship Awards Programme.
National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Senator Aubyn Hill (right), is greeted by Legal Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Claudine Bailey, just before the start of the NIC’s scholarship awards ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel on Thursday (December 7). Sharing the moment is Chief Executive Officer of the NIC, Joseph Gyles. The NIC handed out over $1 million in scholarships and vouchers under its 2018/2019 Scholarship Awards Programme.
Chief Executive Officer of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Joseph Gyles (left) presents a cheque to Denbigh High student, Ackeem Austin, during the entity’s scholarship awards ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel on Thursday (December 7). The NIC handed out over $1 million in scholarships and vouchers under its 2018/2019 Scholarship Awards Programme.

Source: Jamaica Information Service

December 7, 2018

Irrigation Commission Honours 119 Employees for Years of Service (November 14, 2018)

One hundred and nineteen employees of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) Limited, an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, were on Wednesday, November 14, honoured for their years of service at a Long Service Anniversary Luncheon and Awards Banquet held, at the Golf View Hotel, Mandeville.

Chief Technical Director, Special Projects in the Ministry, of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries who gave the keynote address on behalf of Minister, the Hon. Audley Shaw, lauded the workers for the value they have added to the NIC since the commencement of its operations.

“We should never lose sight of the importance and impact of our greatest assets, our human capital, our staff. Through your dedication and hard work, the NIC has been able to deliver on its mandate of supporting the expansion of the agricultural sector, and by extension, contributed to the growth and development of the Jamaican economy, Mr. Cole said.

He further stated that the scope of the agency’s work towards supporting national growth is highlighted when we consider the many large agricultural projects that have been undertaken over the years in the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Trelawny.

The honourees, who were attached to various regions islandwide, were recognized for service ranging from 10 to over 25 years.

Twenty-one employees were recognized for 10-14 years; 15 for 15-19 years of service; 24 for 20-24 years and 38 for 25 years and over. Eleven retirees were also recognized.

The role of the National Irrigation Commission is to provide irrigation services to the agricultural sector by developing potential sources of irrigation water, and to manage these together with existing resources, by providing effective and efficient delivery systems up to farm-gate.



21 Nov 2018



New $30.3m Irrigation System Commissioned in New Forest-Duff House

A total of 400 farmers who cultivate in the New Forest-Duff House Agro Park in Manchester now have improved irrigation access following the commissioning of a new $30.3 million industrial pump that will serve the area, on June 29.

The facility was jointly funded by the World Bank, through its Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), and the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), which contributed $9 million of the cost.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, thanked the stakeholder entities for assisting to facilitate improved irrigation for the farmers.

In a message read by Permanent Secretary, Donovan Stanberry, Mr. Samuda emphasised the importance of ensuring that farmers have adequate supplies of water. This, he said, in order to ensure that the agricultural sector is in a position to contribute meaningfully to economic growth.

“Without water we cannot hope to grow the agricultural sector in a meaningful and sustainable way. So, the commissioning of this pump and irrigation system will ensure that farmers in the area have greater access to a consistent supply of water,” Mr. Samuda added.

Meanwhile, Minster without Portfolio, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, also welcomed the new facility’s commissioning, noting that South Manchester/South St.Elizabeth region was a traditionally dry area.

In this regard, he said the new facility would contribute to increasing the volume of production tenfold by bringing irrigation to the beneficiaries.

Noting that another facility serving the area supplies 50 per cent of the water utilised, Mr. Hutchinson pointed out that “with this new pump, (this) will increase the volume to 75 per cent. The 400 farmers will now be able to get water more regularly and we (will be) able to provide additional farmers, who need it, with water.”

Mr. Hutchinson also restated the availability of approximately 5,000 acres of arable land in sections of South Manchester which he said the Government would be allocating to farmers who need it.

He, however, noted the reluctance of farmers to cultivate on the land because of limited irrigation access and expressed the hope that this would be rectified soon.

“We also have coming on stream the Essex Valley Agricultural Development Project which will cost roughly $5.7 billion, allowing farmers who are unable to get production going to generate the sort of profits that they want to make,” Mr. Hutchinson added.

Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, who also spoke at the commissioning, said through the partnership, the NIC was now in a position to properly plan and distribute water to meet the farmers’ needs.

“The partnership between NIC and JSIF is really about the value that we can get out of the area in terms of production,” he emphasised.


Source: Jamaica Information Service

New $30.3m Irrigation System Commissioned in New Forest-Duff House

400 Manchester Farmers Benefiting from Irrigation System

Four hundred vegetable farmers in the Duff House/New Forest area of Manchester are benefiting from improved access to irrigation for their farms.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, officially commissioned the irrigation system into service during a visit to the area last Thursday (May 11).

He said the farmers, who plant some 800 acres of crops, are major suppliers to the GraceKennedy packaging facility and the Walkerswood factory in St. Ann. “The farmers in the region are very productive,” he noted.

He urged the beneficiaries to pay their bills, so that the system can be kept running and farmers in other areas can benefit.

The Minister underscored the Administration’s commitment to increasing access of farmers to irrigation in order to boost the country’s agricultural output.

He said water is available in the plains of Clarendon and St. Catherine to bring another 70,000 acres of land into production.

Dr. Chang informed that work has been done to improve the canals in the Rio Cobre region, and efforts are ongoing in the Clarendon belt as well. “We are still looking for funds to irrigate the Pedro Plains area, where there are farmers who need water,” he indicated.

He said that an agreement has been signed with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to use funds from the Caribbean Infrastructure Fund to expand the Essex Valley system, which will serve another 2,000 acres of property.

The project is expected to start this year and the system will be powered by solar energy, thus reducing costs.

He informed that the Essex Valley project will include improvements to infrastructure such as roads and domestic water supply, and provide packaging and marketing support.

The commissioning took place during the final stop on the Minister’s tour of irrigated areas in St. Catherine, Clarendon and proposed well sites in St. Elizabeth.

Dr. Chang has been visiting sections of southern Manchester, Clarendon, central St. Catherine and western St. Thomas to assess needs, in keeping with a directive from Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, for the provision of adequate irrigation for farmers across the island.


Source: Jamaica Information Service

400 Manchester Farmers Benefiting from Irrigation System

NIC’s Major Achievements and Contribution to Development and Growth


Rhymesbury Project – Lines 27, 32 and 35: Rehabilitation of 0.915 km of concrete lined canal network

-100% Completed

-Reduction in water loss of 12%

-Improved service to 210 hectares of land and 19 farmers

-Provided employment for 116 temporary skilled and unskilled labourers.

-Project duration: September to November 2016.


Old Milk River Project Rehabilitation of 1 km of concrete lined canal network

-100% Completed

-Reduction in water loss of 15%

-Improved service of 200 hectares of land and to 15 farmers

-Provided employment for 125 temporary skilled and unskilled labourers

-Project duration: March to September 2016.


Parnassus Pipeline – Replacing 2.3 km of asbestos pipes with PVC pipes

-100% Completed

-Reduction in water loss of 12%

-Improved service to the Rhymesbury area

-Provided employment for 15 temporary and 125 temporary unskilled labourers

-Project duration: January – February 2017.


Monymusk Irrigation System Rehabilitation Project- the NIC is supporting the Monymusk sugar cane cultivation by operating the irrigation system

-Twenty three (23) of forty pumps now operational

-Provided  service to 17 farmers on 2,236.26 hectares of land.

-Provided employment for  40 persons (18 skilled and 22 unskilled)


Old Harbour Canal (Phase 1) Rehabilitation of 840 metres of concrete lined canal network

-100% Completed

-Reduction in water loss of 18%

-Improved service to 150 hectares of land and to 30 farmers

-Provided employment for  30 temporary skilled and unskilled labourers

-Project duration: September to December 2016.



Cleaned the Black River Upper and Lower Morass areas of aquatic growing plants and remove silt in order to mitigate against flooding of residential and farming communities.

-Total of 63.56 km cleaned in the Upper and Lower Morass areas.

-Project duration: October 2016 to December 2016

-34 contractors were employed for the period

-1,583 temporary unskilled labourers were employed

-This activity contributes to the tourism industry in the area.



Installation of four gravel filtration systems to improve water quality supplied to farmers in the Braco Irrigation District, Rio Cobre Irrigation District, Port Henderson,Yallahs – Plaintain Garden River (PGR) and Ebony Park.

-100% Completed

-Reduction in sediments in the water supply

-Improved service to 643 hectares of land and 148 farmers

-Provided employment for 27 temporary skilled and unskilled labourers

-Project duration: May to December 2016.



Designed and constructed pump houses at Yallahs – Plaintain Garden (PGR) & Spring Plains/Ebony Park

-100% Completed

-Improved service to 219 hectares of land and 115 farmers

-Increase in command area of 814 hectares

-Provided employment 35 temporary skilled and unskilled labourers

-Project duration: March to December 2016.



To enhance the production and productivity of farmers on 700 hectares in Essex Valley

-Obtained Public Investment Management Secretarial (PIMSEC) approval

-Implementing Agencies NIC and Agro-Investment Corporation

-Implementation to commence during 2017/18 FY and be completed by March 31, 2020

-Grant Funds being finalized with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for US$41.66M

-Expected to provide direct employment for a minimum of 360 individuals during construction- Labourers, Artisans,        Contractors and Specialist Crews

-Additional 1,400 persons to be directly employed in farming activities.



Implementation of cost saving measures such as: Irrigation scheduling, Rate Changes (JPS) and Installation of Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)

-Approx.. 8% savings in energy cost with a value of $20M has been achieved.


SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS 2015/16 – 2016/17

Fourteen Scholarships valued at over Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars  ($700,000.00) were awarded to Secondary and Tertiary  students who are children of employees at NIC.


The National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) is an Agency of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with the main objectives to manage, operate, maintain and expand existing and future irrigation schemes and systems.

Source: The Gleaner, March 2, 2017


National Irrigation Commission Ltd Awards 14 Scholarships to Employees’ Children

Fourteen children of employees of the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) walked away from a presentation ceremony in Kingston two Wednesdays ago with scholarships valued at over $700,000. The scholarships were presented for both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years, as follows:


For 2015/16

• 4 secondary awards at $40,000 each

• 3 tertiary awards at $60,000 each

• 2 board of directors’ awards at $67,500 each


For 2016/17

• 3 secondary awards at $40,000 each

• 2 tertiary awards at $60,000 each


The commission reported last week that the scholarship awards programme originated from a partnership in 1988 with NIC and the various unions representing its workers. It awards students who are children of permanent employees, with the selection based on academic performance. Consideration is also given to involvement in extra-curricular activities and deportment. The awards are chosen by a Selection Committee comprising of internal and external members, including representatives of NIC’s management, unionised staff delegates, the unions representing the workers, and an educator.


At Wednesday’s ceremony, principal of The College of Theological and Interdisciplinary Studies in Jamaica, Rev Michael E Hammond, encouraged the awardees to remain focused on their educational goals. He brought to their attention Jamaican footballer Leon Bailey, who is successfully playing football overseas, who commented recently on a television programme that he was there to play football, and that that was his singular focus.


In reinforcing his point, the Rev Hammond highlighted what he called the four pillars for the platform to success — dedication, discipline, diligence and determination — and urged the awardees to use these pillars to overcome whatever challenges that may come.


Also speaking at the ceremony was medical doctor, farmer, and deputy chairman of the NIC, Dr Horace Charoo, who represented the chairman, Senator Aubyn Hill. He spoke emphatically about the need for rural development in Jamaica. Describing himself as a country boy, Hill said he felt that by taking care of its rural folks, Jamaica will solve much of it social problems and he is convinced that this will also solve some of Jamaica’s crime problems. He also reassured the awardees and others present that the board of NIC was in full support of the Scholarship Awards Programme.


He said he was particularly pleased with the partnership between the unions and NIC which gave birth to the awards because unions are mostly only associated with strikes, demonstrations and roadblocks.


Representing the parents of the awardees, Michael Thomas, spoke glowingly of the scholarships as he said without them he and his wife couldn’t have managed to afford their children the opportunity of a proper education.


The awardees themselves played several roles at the function, from providing entertainment, introducing the guest speaker, offering prayers, to delivering the vote of thanks.



Children of employees of the National Irrigation Commission who received scholarships from the commission on Wednesday are (from left): Kenyata Thomas, Abigail Pollack, Marshalee Cain, Claudia Jones, Allesandro Anderson, Debra-Ann Gordon, Ackeem Austin, Josan Munroe, Jamier Ferguson, Gersandre Thompson, Jhaneel Burrell, Shadane Jonas, Shanice Brown and Olivia Kennedy.


Source: The Daily Observer, February 19, 2017

Repairs to Monymusk irrigation system on track, says NIC

The National Irrigation Commission (NIC) says rehabilitation of the Monymusk irrigation system in Clarendon is on track and will be completed in time for the start of factory operations this month.


“The NIC is working diligently in the fields in order to facilitate the operations at the factory and further supply water to sugar cane-producing farmers, as the factory prepares to start operations this February. This effort is in keeping with the Government of Jamaica’s plan to keep the Monymusk Factory operational,”the NIC said in a release.


Stanley Rampair, senior irrigation consultant and engineer at NIC, said that so far the NIC has rehabilitated 30 pumps and repaired more than eight kilometres of canals.


He said: “Over four kilometres of the Salt River that were overgrown with thick shrubs were excavated and cleared. The river delivers water to the Cockpit and Bratts Hill pumping stations, supplies the Monymusk factory’s operations, and provides irrigation water to the more than 2,850 hectares of land at Monymusk under sugar cane production,” said Rampair.


According to the NIC, supplying of water to Monymusk has been beset by several setbacks and problems, including malfunctioning pumps, pilfering of pumps and cables, stealing of water, high electricity costs, plus limited funding and other operational issues.


Trevor Singh, a farmer for more than 30 years who cultivates sugar cane on approximately 45 hectares of land in Rhymesbury, Clarendon, which he supplies to Monymusk sugar factory, said water he gets from the NIC is “the heart” of his operations and he could not function without it. He said that he is encouraged by the recent upgrading of the canal systems in the area and has seen much improvement since. He said that he is hopeful the upgrading will continue.


Hanif Brown, another farmer who supplies cane to the Monymusk sugar factory from lands irrigated by NIC, uses the centre-pivot and surface irrigation methods on the approximately 110 hectares of land in cane production and he thinks that the water from NIC is “the life” of his operations.


The NIC said in 2016, said it was asked by Cabinet to take over the rehabilitation and operation of the Monymusk irrigation system, and has vowed to continue its work on other key canals that require major repairs in order to ensure that the existing fields can be properly irrigated.


The commission said, too, that it will continue the cleaning of the Salt River and will rehabilitate and commission into service additional pumps to support the operations of the factory and the farmers who are engaged in sugar cane production, saying its association with the Monymusk project will continue until March 2017.


The NIC said it is presently conducting extensive canal rehabilitation work in other areas of Clarendon and St Catherine, while it is making extensive preparation for the highly anticipated US$40-million Essex Valley project in St Elizabeth which was announced by the Government in 2016.


Source: The Daily Observer, February 1, 2017


Braco Farmers Get Drip Irrigation System

Eighteen small farmers, who cultivate fruits and vegetables on the Braco Farms in Trelawny, are benefitting from the installation of a drip irrigation system.

The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) provided funding for the $11.7 million project, which included the establishment of a food safety facility, where the farmers can package and store their produce, which includes watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet pepper, onion, and scallion.

JSIF officially handed over the project to the farmers on Thursday (Aug. 13), where the entity signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) for the supply of water.

Speaking at the ceremony, Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, welcomed the undertaking.

“I am confident that this project will go a long way in enabling improvements in agricultural productivity and production through the provision of affordable irrigation services to our farmers,” he said.

He noted that Braco Farms is ideally located between two major development projects, which will provide opportunity for farmers to market their produce.

“This project is located at a very important place. You are between the (Melia) Braco Resort that is next door and you are at the other end of the Harmony Cove development. It is significant that you have a project here that has been concentrated mostly on the production of vegetables because that is one of the product lines that the hotels need more than anything else,” he said.

Minister Kellier noted that with Melia Braco expected to come on stream later this year, “you can produce to support the hotel next door, rather than for things to come from further afield. It puts you in a position to supply your produce much cheaper because there is less transportation cost.”

The Agriculture Minister stressed the Government’s commitment to providing the country’s farmers with access to irrigation to boost productivity, so as to reduce the nation’s reliance on imported produce, and to enhance food safety and security.

He informed that over the last 10 years, over $5 billion has been spent to install new irrigation systems across the island.

Two of these were commissioned within the last two years, one at New Forrest in Manchester and another at Yallahs, St. Thomas, where Agro Parks have been established.

“We are already seeing the transformational impact of these new irrigation systems,” Minister Kellier said.

Installation of the drip irrigation system, which covers 15 acres of land, comes under the World Bank-funded Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI).

The MoU will also result in the NIC identifying additional projects that could be supported by JSIF, facilitating sensitisation opportunities for farming groups and communities in irrigation areas, providing technical expertise and supporting training initiatives for the development of primary irrigation systems.

Source: Marlon Tingling, Jamaica Information Service


Solar system to reduce cost at NIC’s Ebony Park facility

The Government has commissioned into service a solar power system at the Ebony Park irrigation pumping station in Clarendon, which is to deliver energy worth some $564,000 annually, and reduce electricity cost for irrigation by $6 million per year.

With the new power system, farmers in the area will now receive improved water supply from the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) facility.

Speaking at the ceremony on August 11, Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the NIC solar project will enable improved agricultural productivity and production, through the provision of reliable irrigation services.

“Against the background of the Climate Change issues we now face, utilising the abundance of sunshine we have to produce solar power to generate the pumping of irrigated water, can only be welcomed as a win-win response,” the Minister said.

Mr. Kellier said the challenges facing the agricultural sector should not be seen as daunting, but should be looked at as opportunities to strengthen the capacities of agencies, such as the NIC, to implement initiatives to make Jamaica’s agriculture sustainable.

The Minister told the gathering that irrigated water contributes significantly to the growth of the agricultural industry, and enables rural development.

“For gains to be further made, it is important that there be continuous improvements in areas, such as energy management and water use efficiency,” he noted.

He charged the NIC to use the Ebony Park facility as a pilot project, and then to replicate the project across the island by expanding the system to other regions where the agency operates, to meet the growing demand for the commodity.

The solar system is part of a $300 million irrigation project to be launched at Spring Plain/Ebony Park, in September, which will bring the nearly 3,000-acre property/Agro Park into full production.


Source: Garfield Angus, Jamaica Information Service

Photo: Rudranath Fraser

NIC building named in honour of Roger Clarke

The National Irrigation Commission Limited’s building located on the Denbigh Showground in Clarendon has been officially named the Roger Clarke Building, in honour of the late Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Honourable Roger Clarke, for his dedication and commitment to the development of irrigation services and agriculture in Jamaica.

Prime Minister The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, who was in attendance at the naming ceremony held at Denbigh on August 2, unveiled a plaque bearing the new name.

Dr. Conrad Douglas, Board Chairman, National Irrigation Commission Limited, said that “the NIC in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries deemed it fit to recognise the outstanding service which the late Minister rendered in building the nation of Jamaica in the area of agriculture and fisheries.

He further noted that late Minister Clarke was committed to the efficient and effective use of irrigation technologies, and that he spearheaded the commissioning of two irrigation districts; New Forest/Nuff House in St. Elizabeth and Yallahs Irrigation District in St. Thomas.

The naming ceremony was attended by Honourable Derrick Kellier, Minister of  Agriculture and Fisheries; Honourable Noel Arscott, Minister of Local Government and Community Development and Member of Parliament for South West Clarendon, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica Agricultural Society, members of the NIC’s Board of Directors and staff, other stakeholders in the agriculture sector as well family members of the late Minister, Honourable Roger Clarke.




NIC receives Denbigh Lifetime Achievement Award

The National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) received the Denbigh Lifetime Achievement Award at the 63rd staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, held in Clarendon on July 31 to August 2, 2015.

Dr. Mark Richards, Chief Executive Officer, NIC, accepted the award that was given in recognition of the organisation’s contribution towards the annual Denbigh Show and the development of agriculture in Jamaica.

Disruption in Irrigation System in St. Elizabeth

The National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) advises customers that due a power outage in parts of St. Elizabeth, our irrigation system in Hounslow will be out of operation until later this afternoon.

As a result of the power disruption, customers in Hounslow, Mountainside and Ridge Pen will be impacted and could be without irrigation water until this afternoon. Additionally, NIC’s operations at the loading bay at Watchwell will be temporarily suspended.

The NIC apologises for any inconvenience this disruption may cause and will provide updates on the situation.

NIC Assisting Drought-Affected Farming Communities

Several farming communities across the island are set to benefit from intervention strategies being implemented by the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) Limited to mitigate the effects of the dry season.

These include rehabilitating storage tanks and wells to improve access of farmers to irrigation water, and encouraging best practices in land and water management.

“In New Forest, Manchester for example, we are commissioning additional storage tanks into operation to improve water availability to farmers, who are not within the existing irrigated areas, ” Manager of the Commercial Department at the NIC, Lorraine Geddes McDonald, told JIS News.

She informed that over in Clarendon, pumps and wells, which were out of service, are being rehabilitated to supplement the surface water sources, while pumping hours will be extended in the parishes of St. Catherine and St. Elizabeth.

“We will also decrease the size of each service area to facilitate an increase in scheduling of water distribution across irrigation schemes,” Mrs. Geddes McDonald noted.

She said farmers are also being encouraged to engage in best practices to minimise the effects of the dry season.

These include short term measures such as mulching, using grass or plastic; hand watering, using water cans; adding organic matter to soil to increase water retention capacity; and installing temporary guttering to capture water from sporadic rainfall.

For the medium to long term, farmers are being encouraged to integrate rain water harvesting facilities such as concrete tanks, earthen reservoirs and micro dams; practice proper watershed management; and establish wind breaks around their fields.

“We encourage farmers to use efficient economical irrigations systems where practical and as resources permit,” Mrs. Geddes McDonald said. She noted that the NIC’s On-Farm Water Management Unit is committed to providing ongoing support to farmers across the island through one-on-one engagements as well as group training sessions.

“The unit will increase its efforts to mobilise farmers and advise them on efficient on-farm water management strategies and irrigation best practices,” she added.

The NIC is an agency within the Ministry of Agriculture, which became operational in May 1987.

Its stipulated objectives are: to manage, operate, maintain and expand such existing and future irrigation schemes and systems as may now or hereafter be established by the Government of Jamaica or by any department or agency; to fix and collect the rates or charges, and to be paid for the use of such water.


Source: Judith Hunter, Jamaica Information Service

Photo: Donald Delahaye, Jamaica Information Service



Statement – Supply of Water to DEML

The management of the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) wishes to advise the public that it has resolved the electrical problems which affected our Cookson 4 pumping facility, in the Bernard Lodge area of St. Catherine, which supplies water to Dynamic Environmental Management Limited (DEML), one of our customers.

DEML distributes potable water to homes in Caribbean Estates, Bernard Lodge and other housing developments in St. Catherine.

On Saturday, April 18, members of NIC’s Engineering and Technical Services Team discovered that the control board for the Cookson 4 was burnt. We immediately informed DEML of the situation, and put in interim measures to ensure some water to DEML via another irrigation supply system, which averaged 30% of the normal flow.

There was no problem with our well as erroneously reported.

We ask our customer to accept our sincere regret for the inconvenience caused by the disruption in service.

NIC Expands Drought Management Plan

The National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) has expanded its drought management plan, to improve service to its more than 3,600 customers.

Last year the agricultural sector was significantly impacted by drought conditions and word out of the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change is that Jamaica is one of those countries to be impacted by climate change, hence drought conditions will become a recurring decimal.

“In terms of our landscape last year, we had a drought plan that largely embodied the plan for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the National Plan. This year, we will have an expanded drought management plan for the NIC,” Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mark Richards, tells JIS News.

Dr. Richards says the strategic transformation initiatives undertaken by the Commission are aimed at driving the organization’s business directional shift and capacity building.

“Irrigation is making a difference in the agricultural sector, which has become the focal point for economic growth. So, the repositioning of the organization is critical at this time given the importance of the agricultural sector to the economy and the thrust of the Government,” he notes. With over 36,000 hectares of land presently impacted by irrigation, the NIC is looking to increase its coverage to 40,000 hectares this year, in order to increase agricultural production and productivity.

“The NIC has the drive and capacity to transform the local agricultural sector through the provision of water and irrigation projects and services across the island. Records have shown that when farmers have adequate access to water to cultivate crops, the employment generated creates vibrant communities with a sound economic base,” Dr. Richards argues.

Meanwhile, Commercial Manager at the NIC, Lorraine Geddes McDonald, says there is continuous engagement as the organization seeks to engage under-utilized and un-utilized lands, especially those owned by the Government, to have them under agricultural production. She explains that in support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries policies, the NIC is looking to engage not only government lands but those owned by private individuals. “We are encouraging private individuals who own agricultural lands and have decided for one reason or another to move out of agriculture, to put back those lands into agricultural production,” Ms. McDonald urges. She tells JIS News that a part of the strategic transformation is a paradigm shift to make the NIC more customer centred, as the organization focuses on the needs of the customers.

The NIC has been playing an important role in the agro-park initiative and provides irrigated services to eight of the nine agro-parks across the island. And, with another 21 slated to come on stream, the NIC says it stands ready to support the implementation of the new agro-parks. Director of Engineering and Technical Services at the NIC, Milton Henry, tells JIS News that the Commission distributes water through canals, surface systems and also through piped networks in pressurized systems.

“Our service deliveries are not without challenges. There are instances where communities block the canals which is illegal. This diminishes the quality of the service, so we are working with the community leadership to stem that,” he notes.

“We are also challenged by pilfering at some of our locations and damage to some of our consumer meters. For the year so far, we have seen damage to 12 of our consumer meters in St. Catherine and in another four locations. The replacement of these damaged equipment is in the region of $2 to $3 million,” he says.

Mr. Henry is appealing to members of the public to desist from damaging the systems, noting that persons found guilty of the act can be fined a maximum of $100,000 and/or three years in prison.

The Director points out that the NIC partners with farmers by offering on-farm training to ensure that they can use the service efficiently and improve their productivity. He tells JIS News that the NIC’s aim is to match the actual demand with the water that is being supplied. “So, we are investing in efficiency. We are also putting in hardware, such as variable speed drives at our pumping stations, and capacitors to make the stations more efficient, from an energy perspective. There will be solar applications and wind energy to drive efficiency and ensure that we can deliver quality service to our customers,” Mr. Henry says. The NIC operates two demonstration plots in Braco, Trelawny, and Hounslow in St. Elizabeth. According to Mr. Henry, these are plots the NIC uses for data collection and experimental irrigation techniques, to show farmers best practices in irrigation management on their farms.

“We need to have the information so we can provide concrete evidence to say what works and what will not work. We want to have that level of authority in moving forward. We want to get agriculture to the point where it is knowledge on our part and we can impart that knowledge to our stakeholders,” he explains.

“We are also striving to ensure that we operate up to international standards. Our staff is trained in most emerging agricultural giants, such as China and South America. We are aware of the emerging agricultural technology, so we just need to get the farmers on board with what we have. The demonstration plots are where we take new technology and put it into the ground, so people can see what they can do,” Mr. Henry adds.

The NIC was established by an Act of Parliament in 1987 and operates under the Irrigation Act of 1949. It is licensed to extract and deliver water under the Water Resources Authority (WRA).


Source: Judith Hunter, Jamaica Information Service

Photo: Donald Delahaye, Jamaica Information Service

NIC Provides Water for 36,066 Hectares across the Island

With a major focus on advancing irrigated agriculture, the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) is operating 10 irrigation schemes that cover 36,066.20 hectares in the eastern, central and western regions of Jamaica.

Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on March 19, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NIC, Dr. Mark Richards, said the Commission has been given the mandate to manage, operate, maintain and expand existing and future irrigation schemes and systems to enable the agricultural sector to optimise production.

Pointing to the strategic transformation initiatives that have been undertaken by the NIC, to expand and improve its services to clients, Dr. Richards emphasized that repositioning the organization is critical at this time.

“Given the importance of the agricultural sector to the economy, our mission now outlines that we should be enabling an improvement in agricultural productivity, production and prosperity through the provision of reliable, efficient and affordable irrigation and related services to farmers and other customers,”, he said.

The NIC has been playing a significant role in the agro-park initiative and is providing irrigated services to eight of the nine agro-parks across the island.

According to Dr. Richards, the NIC’s planning, design and installation teams have provided services in the development of the irrigation component and other support services to farmers to ensure the success of the agro-park programme.

“We are cognizant of the significant value of the agro-park initiative to economic growth and development, so we are committed to their success and we are doing all we can to ensure their implementation,” he added.

The NIC was established by an Act of Parliament in 1987 and operates under the Irrigation Act of 1949. The NIC is licensed to extract and deliver water under the Water Resources Authority (WRA).


Source: Judith Hunter, Jamaica Information Service

Photo: Donald Delahaye, Jamaica Information Service

NIC Reports Theft of Water Meters

The National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) reports that several of its water meters in the Lakes Pen area of St. Catherine have been stolen.

Milton Henry, Director of Engineering and Technical Services at NIC, is appealing to the public to desist from stealing NIC’s property such as water meters, pipes and pumping equipment. “The NIC has been grappling with this problem for years. We have lost millions of dollars due to the theft of our property. This has led to disruption of our operations and significant inconvenience to customers,” he stated.

The incident has been reported to the Spanish Town Police Station, which is investigating the matter.

Persons are reminded that the theft of NIC’s property is a criminal offence which can lead to a three year custodial sentence under the Irrigation Act.

The NIC is an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries that was established to manage, operate, maintain and expand existing and future irrigation schemes and systems.

National Irrigation Commission Limited Names Dr Mark Richards as CEO

The National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC), an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, announces that its Board of Directors has named Dr. Mark Richards as Chief Executive Officer.

In his new role, Dr. Richards will be responsible for, among other things, managing and coordinating the operations of all divisions within the NIC and directing studies of the current and projected national needs for irrigation services in Jamaica. He has also been tasked with fostering partnerships with various stakeholders from within the public and private sectors as well as international development partners to fulfill NIC’s role in meeting the government’s objectives for agricultural growth, food security and national development.

An environmental specialist for over ten years, he has worked in several capacities within agencies of the Government of Jamaica in the areas of environment management and planning, climate science and project management. He previously served as highway construction monitoring consultant with the National Environment Protection Agency, and as an environmental engineer at the National Works Agency where he was extensively involved in major projects involving roads, buildings and drainage.

Dr. Richards holds a Doctorate in Atmospheric Environmental Chemistry from the University of the West Indies and has training in the management of climate change and eco-systems from Seoul National University and University of California. Additionally, he completed undergraduate studies in pure and applied chemistry at the University of the West Indies, where he worked as an assistant lecturer in applied chemistry and unit processes in industrial chemistry.

Dr. Richards, who is also a farmer, serves as a member of the National Air Quality and Disaster Risk Reduction Committees.

The National Irrigation Commission Limited is the sole provider of irrigation to the agricultural sector. The organisation operates irrigation services within the districts of Yallahs, St. Thomas; Mid-Clarendon; Braco, Trelawny; St. Dorothy, Rio Cobre and Colbeck, St. Catherine; New Forest/Duff House in Manchester; Hounslow and Beacon/Little Park, St. Elizabeth and Seven Rivers in St. James.