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