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