JIS News

Cabinet has approved $100 million for the cadastral surveying of lands for the US$200-million Pedro Plains Irrigation Scheme.

The national strategic project, which was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is designed to take water from the Black River and use this to irrigate the plains and farmlands in the parish.

Hundreds of farmers from communities in Flagaman, Greenfield, Southfield and Top Hill will benefit from the project.

“Through this initiative, we will put about 4,000 hectares under irrigation supply… serving thousands of farmers,” said Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Floyd Green.

He was addressing a World Water Day 2023 event at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) on Wednesday, March 22.

Minister Green, who is also the Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western, said the Pedro Plains Irrigation Scheme is a testament to the Government’s commitment to ensuring that farmers in the nation’s ‘bread basket’ parish have the water they need to boost productivity.

He noted that despite the parish’s high level of production, farmers have long faced water challenges, including prolonged periods of drought.

“Less than 10 per cent of the arable lands farmed in St. Elizabeth have irrigation water supply. Yet, St. Elizabeth produces the most agricultural items in the entire Jamaica,” he pointed out.

“What we want to do is to change the water dynamic in St. Elizabeth because we have great farmers doing well without water. Now, imagine how well they will do when we provide them with irrigation,” he said.

In the meantime, Minister Green said that the Government has earmarked $2.5 billion to execute 21 projects to bring potable water to communities across Jamaica.

He said that four of the 21 projects are in St. Elizabeth and include Black River to Treasure Beach, Hounslow, and Maggotty to Newton water supply improvements, and the Santa Cruz Bypass pipeline project.

“So, the Government is putting in significant resources to try and bring water to our people – water in your homes and water to the farms,” Mr. Green said.

World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance on March 22 that highlights the importance of fresh water.

At the event held at STETHS, under the theme ‘Accelerating Change – Water, Changing Behaviour and Lives’, students at the primary and secondary levels were sensitised about the importance of the precious commodity.

Among the schools in attendance were Black River Primary & Infant, Black River High, Bull Savannah, Brompton Primary, Maggotty High, Lacovia High, and Sydney Pagon STEM Academy.

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