The Government has commissioned into service a solar power system at the Ebony Park irrigation pumping station in Clarendon, which is to deliver energy worth some $564,000 annually, and reduce electricity cost for irrigation by $6 million per year.
With the new power system, farmers in the area will now receive improved water supply from the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) facility.
Speaking at the ceremony on August 11, Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the NIC solar project will enable improved agricultural productivity and production, through the provision of reliable irrigation services.
“Against the background of the Climate Change issues we now face, utilising the abundance of sunshine we have to produce solar power to generate the pumping of irrigated water, can only be welcomed as a win-win response,” the Minister said.
Mr. Kellier said the challenges facing the agricultural sector should not be seen as daunting, but should be looked at as opportunities to strengthen the capacities of agencies, such as the NIC, to implement initiatives to make Jamaica’s agriculture sustainable.
The Minister told the gathering that irrigated water contributes significantly to the growth of the agricultural industry, and enables rural development.
“For gains to be further made, it is important that there be continuous improvements in areas, such as energy management and water use efficiency,” he noted.
He charged the NIC to use the Ebony Park facility as a pilot project, and then to replicate the project across the island by expanding the system to other regions where the agency operates, to meet the growing demand for the commodity.
The solar system is part of a $300 million irrigation project to be launched at Spring Plain/Ebony Park, in September, which will bring the nearly 3,000-acre property/Agro Park into full production.
Source: Garfield Angus, Jamaica Information Service
Photo: Rudranath Fraser