The National Irrigation Commission (NIC) says rehabilitation of the Monymusk irrigation system in Clarendon is on track and will be completed in time for the start of factory operations this month.
“The NIC is working diligently in the fields in order to facilitate the operations at the factory and further supply water to sugar cane-producing farmers, as the factory prepares to start operations this February. This effort is in keeping with the Government of Jamaica’s plan to keep the Monymusk Factory operational,”the NIC said in a release.
Stanley Rampair, Senior Irrigation Consultant and Engineer at NIC, said that so far the NIC has rehabilitated 30 pumps and repaired more than 8 kilometres of canals.
“Over 4 kilometres of the Salt River that were overgrown with thick shrubs were excavated and cleared. The river delivers water to the Cockpit and Bratts Hill pumping stations, supplies the Monymusk factory’s operations, and provides irrigation water to the more than 2,850 hectares of land at Monymusk under sugar cane production,” said Rampair.
According to the NIC, supplying of water to Monymusk has been beset by several setbacks and problems, including malfunctioning pumps, pilfering of pumps and cables, stealing of water, high electricity costs, plus limited funding and other operational issues.
Trevor Singh, a farmer for more than 30 years who cultivates sugar cane on approximately 45 hectares of land in Rhymesbury, Clarendon, which he supplies to Monymusk sugar factory, said water he gets from the NIC is “the heart” of his operations and he could not function without it. He said that he is encouraged by the recent upgrading of the canal systems in the area and has seen much improvement since. He said that he is hopeful the upgrading will continue.
Hanif Brown, another farmer who supplies cane to the Monymusk sugar factory from lands irrigated by the NIC, uses the centre-pivot and surface irrigation methods on the approximately 110 hectares of land in cane production and he thinks that the water from NIC is “the life” of his operations.
The NIC said in 2016 it was asked by Cabinet to take over the rehabilitation and operation of the Monymusk irrigation system, and has vowed to continue its work on other key canals that require major repairs in order to ensure that the existing fields can be properly irrigated.
The commission said, too, that it will continue the cleaning of the Salt River and will rehabilitate and commission into service additional pumps to support the operations of the factory and the farmers who are engaged in sugar cane production, saying its association with the Monymusk project will continue until March 2017.
The NIC said it is presently conducting extensive canal rehabilitation work in other areas of Clarendon and St Catherine, while it is making extensive preparation for the highly anticipated US$40-million Essex Valley project in St Elizabeth which was announced by the Government in 2016.