NIC commissions new solar panels to improve water distribution in St Elizabeth

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr. (seated, right), listens attentively at the commissioning of the National Irrigation Commission’s (NIC) solar panels in the Beacon Little Park community in St Elizabeth, on April 12. Also at the ceremony (from left) are Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Franklin Witter and Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South West, Floyd Green. – Contributed photo.

The installation of new solar panels at the Beacon E pump station in St Elizabeth by the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) to improve water distribution will be a major boost for farmers, says Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr.

Speaking in the community of Beacon Little Park, where the commissioning of the solar panels took place on Wednesday, the Minister explained that the new solar panels will allow [the NIC] to self-generate approximately 60 per cent of the energy required for the station, reducing its energy bill by approximately $9.5 million or 55 per cent annually.

He added that the panels will also help farmers to reduce the cost of producing irrigated water, adding that some 390 of them will benefit from a 120-kilowatt grid-tied solar system comprising 270 photovoltaic, 450 panels costing $31.5 million, and improved service delivery from the NIC.

“It’s a given that St Elizabeth farmers will benefit from what will be a new and efficient water distribution system… and with renewable energy,” he said.

The Minister praised the farmers for their amazing resilience, assuring them that more resources will be given to the parish of St Elizabeth.

“We will continue to work with our farmers to ensure that you are trained and informed and that you know the techniques, in terms of proper irrigation and water efficiency and how to use the water,” he said.

“These practises will not only conserve water use in agriculture, but they are going to contribute to reducing the cost of that bill. You will, however, have to maintain the high soil quality,” the Minister added.

Charles Jr also hailed the farmers for their “mindset,” adding that “St Elizabeth farmers tend to use limited resources efficiently”.

“The reason you are so distinguished in your farming practises is partially because of the challenges that you face annually… you have the drought and you have to truck water. You waste nothing, and that mindset of efficiency is what causes your production to be so specific and calculated,” the Minister argued.

He hailed the Ministry’s partnership with the NIC to grow the sector and encouraged the nation to embrace and support the ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’ campaign, which aims to strengthen food security, drive resilience and sustainability, and improve efficiency.

– JIS News