JIS News

More than 420 farmers in Manchester, who are members of the New Forest/Duff House Water Users Association, are to have improved access to irrigation water to boost the production of crops.
Under a $228 million (US$2.57 million) project, which is being undertaken under the National Irrigation Development Programme (NIDP), five production wells will be constructed in the New Forest/Duff House area, which will collectively cater to the needs of the farmers, who cultivate vast acreages of produce such as thyme, escallion, tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, and other short and long-term crops.
Well drilling contracts totalling over $100 million have been awarded to Jamaica Wells and Services Limited, while Llewelyn Allen & Associates will do the cadastral mapping of the land for $8.3 million.
The wells, located at Rowes Corner, Duff House, Plumwood, Lane and New Forest, will be inter-connected through a complex network of pipelines. They are expected to operate at an average discharge rate of 75 litres per second, or 6481.03 cubic metres per day, resulting in an estimated 75 per cent increase in crop yields.
The project is being implemented by the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), through joint funding from the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Acting Project Director of the NIDP, Milton Henry, informed JIS News that the project is largely geared towards helping farmers to increase the production of high-value crops, to increase farm profits, thereby improving their socio-economic situation.
In addition to getting the farmers organised into an association and providing marketing and agronomic training, he stated that they will be provided with the necessary support to ensure that the new irrigation system is sustained over the long-term, and efficiently serves the farmers’ needs.
“We’ll be supporting their Water Users Association with an office, with training, with any other support that they need to go forward and we’ll be providing joint management with them for whatever time it takes, to ensure that they are able to take over the scheme properly and effectively run it themselves,” he told JIS News.
He further disclosed that farmers were also receiving assistance under the Land Administration Management Programme (LAMP), so lands can be regularised and titles obtained, which they can use to procure funding.
Rupert Clarke, who is a member of the New Forest/Duff House Water Users Association, has expressed confidence in the ability of the new system to effectively solve the irrigation woes of farmers in that area.
“My expectation is to get good water supply, which can help me to increase my production. It will mean I can earn more and I can produce more, and I can also cut back on my gas system, because the water system that I have now is something that I have to use four generators in order to harness the limited supply of water and then distribute it as necessary, and this costs me more. So I feel this will save me a lot, and I will make more in the long run,” he stated.
“The water is so low, and I use overhead irrigation, so I have to catch it in a tank and use generators to pump it back to the plants. So (with this project) I feel I wouldn’t have to do that anymore. My acreage will increase, as irrigation increases, and this is our biggest problem, outside of marketing,” he told JIS News.
Under the NIDP, irrigation systems are being developed to encourage cultivation of high-value crops as well as to improve farm income and regularise the delivery of water to farmers, particularly along the country’s southern plains.
The farmers will be mobilised into water users groups and trained in areas such as marketing, on-farm water management, budgeting and agri-business, among other things.
The Government is receiving funding from the IDB and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in selected project areas such as Yallahs in St. Thomas; Colbeck in St. Catherine; and Essex Valley and Hounslow in St. Elizabeth.

Skip to content