JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue distribution of 300 water tanks, valued at $5 million, to farmers islandwide whose cultivations have been adversely affected by the prevailing drought.
  • Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the tanks, which will be distributed with the assistance of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), forms part of the Ministry’s overall drought mitigation programme for the agricultural sector.
  • Letters of Commitment were presented to 14 of the beneficiaries during a brief ceremony at RADA’s Manchester Parish Office, in Mandeville, on July 1.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will, over the coming weeks, continue distribution of 300 water tanks, valued at $5 million, to farmers islandwide whose cultivations have been adversely affected by the prevailing drought.

This action commenced  recently with the provision of 10 of the 650-gallon black water tanks to coffee farmers in the Blue Mountain Ridge of East Rural St. Andrew, who lost crops totalling millions of dollars as a result of  bush fires.

Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the tanks, which will be distributed with the assistance of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), forms part of the Ministry’s overall drought mitigation programme for the agricultural sector.

He pointed out that provisions to the coffee farmers, which also included seedlings and fertilizers, formed part of the Ministry’s rehabilitation and mitigation programme, valued at over $25 million.

Meanwhile, another 40 tanks are slated for delivery to farmers across Manchester, for whom funds will also be provided to assist with the trucking of water to their properties for use in crop irrigation.

Letters of Commitment were presented to 14 of the beneficiaries during a brief ceremony at RADA’s Manchester Parish Office, in Mandeville, on July 1.

Speaking at the function, Mr. Kellier said provision of the tanks is among several notable programmes being implemented by the Ministry, which are aimed at strengthening the agricultural sector’s resilience to drought, and also in response to the effects of climate change on farmers.

 

He also cited the Government’s Adaptation Programme for Agriculture, valued over $292 million (US$2.5 million); a $31 million  productive incentive, which was allocated to Members of Parliament earlier this year, another of which is earmarked for delivery shortly; and $19 million to boost water harvesting, which is expected to increase the sector’s capacity to produce during dry seasons.

Mr. Kellier lamented the fact  that Jamaica is again experiencing another “intense’ period of dry weather, this year, following the “record-breaking” drought in 2014, which resulted in crop losses totalling over $125 million.

He said the Ministry acknowledges that “more (needs) to be done” to assist farmers, particularly in light of the Meteorological Office’s forecast for “above-normal” dry spells and temperatures, during the second half of 2015.

“In this regard, we will continue to provide support to the most vulnerable and critical production areas, through the Government of Jamaica Adaptation Programme, and other programmes, as we seek to build productivity within the sector,” he assured.

RADA’s Chairman, Dr. Richard Harrison, who also spoke at the ceremony, said provision of the water tanks is indicative of the agency’s recognition that “we have a role to play is assisting farmers to lessen the worst effects of the drought.”

For his part, RADA’s Chief Executive Officer, Lenworth Fulton, indicated that in addition to providing the tanks and trucking water to affected farmers, over the short-term, a medium-term intervention, focusing on creating earthen ponds to provide water, is also being explored.

He further advised that over the long-term, it is proposed to install more irrigation systems, “where the water source is available,” as currently obtains in the island’s nine agro-parks.

 

Also attending the ceremony were: Speaker of the House of Representatives and South Manchester Member of Parliament, Hon. Michael Peart; North West Manchester Member of Parliament, Mikeal Phillips; and Mandeville Mayor, Councillor Brenda Ramsay, who all welcomed the Ministry’s interventions, and pledged their support to the farmers.