NIC provides over 300 Trelawny farmers with $35-m irrigation system

Contributed by the Jamaica Observer

CLARK’S TOWN, Trelawny — The National Irrigation Commission (NIC) last week put in a $35-million system to assist over 300 farmers in Trelawny, operating on over 5,000 acres of land.

The move by the NIC is a short-term measure to provide water to offset the impact of dry spells, brought on by climate change, on the farmers operating on lands now transformed from sugar cane cultivation.

The system includes a rehabiliated well and the construction of a ramp, which represent an investment of $15.6 million, and a water truck acquired at a cost of $19.3 million.

During Thursday’s official commissioning ceremony in Clark’s Town, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Floyd Green noted that plans were advanced for the buildout of a modern irrigation system to serve the area.

“This is our short-term intervention to ensure that we can respond to you quickly when the drought comes in. But, as you would have heard, we are looking at medium-and longer-term plans so we have already started to look at how we can design an appropriate irrigation system that will move water from here actually to your farms because that, again, will reduce the cost for you and make you much more efficient — and that is work in progress.” Green said.

Nigel Myrie, board chair of NIC Limited, disclosed plans to expand the Braco irrigation system in the parish to include the Long Pond lands.

“In the medium to long term the NIC will complete the design and ultimately secure funding to build out a modern irrigation system in the area [Long Pond lands]. Already the area is being assessed to inform a submission to expand the boundary of the Braco irrigation district to include these Long Pond lands. Braco is a small district so this is an opportunity for us to impact more farming activities in the parish of Trelawny and probably in the north coast, because we have neighbouring parishes which can benefit,” Myrie said.

“Braco also has another ramp at the Bengal station,” he added.

Clark’s Town farmer Orville Williams welcomed the new NIC offerings, which he said will be more economical than purchasing water from private truckers.

“For me, you can readily access the water at a more affordable cost than when you buy it from the ordinary man on the road, so it helps,” Williams said.