NIC applicants must have legal access to land

Public Relations Specialist, National Irrigation Commission, Christeen Forbes, tells JIS News that the Commission operates in drought-prone areas across the island and offers farmers consistent water supply to their farms. – Contributed photo

The National Irrigation Commission (NIC) is reminding persons that they must have legal access to land before applying for service from the entity.

The NIC is the only organisation on the island that offers irrigated water to farmers.

In a recent interview with JIS News, Public Relations Specialist at the NIC, Christeen Forbes, said the Commission operates in drought-prone areas across the island and offers farmers consistent water supply to their farms. “The process entails the person coming to our office and saying that I have a property, for example in St. Dorothy’s, St Catherine, and I want to get irrigation service from the NIC,” she noted.

“The person would have to prove that they have legal access to the land, because we won’t conduct any form of business with the person without proof that they have legal access to the land by way of purchase lease or whatever other legal means,” Forbes explained. Once your application is submitted, the NIC will send a field officer to assess your farm to determine whether the Commission can supply the amount of water needed.

“When this is done, field service officers will go and do a check to say whether our system can manage to take the water to where it needs to go. After the internal approval process… and we are able to take on another customer on our system, then that person will get a contract and they will get water from the NIC,” Forbes said. Meanwhile, the NIC is reminding applicants that they supply untreated water, which is different from what the National Water Commission (NWC) supplies.

Forbes said the NIC specifically serves stakeholders in the Agricultural and Fisheries sectors.

“The most important differentiating factor is that we provide untreated water. Our water is not for domestic purposes. We do supply water to NWC, but when they get this water, they will take it through the process and treat it for domestic purposes. So, when we take the water from the river we take it to our farmers,” she said.

Forbes also pointed out that the untreated water that the NIC supplies is perfect for agricultural purposes and noted that because it is untreated it does not mean the water is dirty. “When we say untreated water, we are referring to water from our rivers. But it’s not something that you would just take and drink it. To make it fit for drinking, the NWC will treat it. And it’s natural water like the rainwater. We also take water from our wells, some 400 feet underground. We also take water from the Rio Cobre river to serve the southern plains of St Catherine,” Forbes said.

Like the NWC, the NIC has a distribution network that allows the agency to supply farmers directly from their pump houses, enabling farmers to have consistent access to water. “In a similar way, when you turn on your pipes at home to cook or to bathe and you get that water, our farmers do the same. They get to turn their water on and off and at the end of the month they are billed for the water they would have used,” Forbes said.

For more information about the work of the NIC persons can visit or call (876)-977-4022.

– JIS News