Jamaica – The Government will be spending $605 million this year to lay irrigation pipelines and strengthen capacity-building initiatives within the agriculture sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, says the funds will also be used to construct a global gap facility, adding that another $300 million has been earmarked to dig wells in Paranasuss in Clarendon.
He made the announcement during his recent 2021/22 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives, under the theme ‘The New FACE of Food’.
Mr. Green further noted that the Administration is in the process of forgoing a collaboration with France’s government to fund the multibillion-dollar Pedro Plains irrigation scheme, which will channel water from the Black River to irrigate the plains of southern St. Elizabeth.
Meanwhile, he said 10 catchment ponds in Manchester, St. Ann and St. Elizabeth will be upgraded as part of efforts to build resilience and sustainability, and increase productivity.
“These will be used to support greenhouses [and] open-field irrigation production systems, and already we have started preliminary work to identify other areas where we can build catchment areas or ponds to serve the farmers,” the Minister added.
Mr. Green said the Ministry will continue to invest in climate-smart technology and expand the irrigation network and catchment facilities in farming communities, while highlighting several engagements, to this end, now under way.
These include the £35-million United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund-funded Essex Valley Agricultural Development Project in South St. Elizabeth and South Manchester, targeting irrigation for 718 hectares of land, and a £17-million irrigation project covering 795 hectares of land in St. Catherine and Clarendon.
“We are expanding our irrigation network because water is life for our farmers,” Mr. Green said, adding that discussions are ongoing between the Ministry and the developers to ensure that the completion timelines are met.