Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickergill has lauded the Ewarton Watershed and Farmer’s Co-operative Society for its role in protecting the environment and safeguarding the country’s natural resources.
“I am very proud of this group…what you have set out to do through your organisation, namely: preserving the environment through improved farmer techniques and environmentally friendly practices, is indeed commendable,” he said.
Mr. Pickersgill, who is also Member of Parliament for North West St. Catherine, was addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Co-operative Society at the Ewarton Community Centre in St. Catherine on March 28.
The Minister said he was pleased that the organisation is not only employing environmentally sound practices in growing crops and rearing livestock, but is also working to improve the quality of the water at the Rio Cobre Watershed by re-foresting approximately 100 acres of land on Mount Rousseau with fruit trees.
“What makes this venture even more meaningful, is that by planting fruit trees, you are not only preserving the watershed and improving the air quality of the area, but you are also adding to your own food security and that of your community as well as providing an additional source of income for yourselves and your community,” the Minister noted.
Mr. Pickersgill also said it was noteworthy that the work being done by the Co-operative Society supplements the work of the 13 Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) that have been established islandwide to preserve the island’s protected forests and critical watersheds.
“Indeed, the projects you have embarked on are in no small measure, assisting my Ministry, its agencies and stakeholders to protect our natural resources and our environment including our local forest cover,” he said.
The Minister further commended the body for its efforts at enhancing the livelihood of land owners through workshops on conservation and land husbandry, as well as advising on the production of marketable fruits and timber.
“I understand that you have also attended several workshops to build capacity in such areas as soil erosion and contouring. In addition, you held a tree planting day in September last year,” Minister Pickersgill observed.
Now boasting a membership of 45, the Co-operative Society was formed in 1993 and officially registered under the Company Societies Act in 2008.
In carrying out its activities and engaging in best practices, the entity has partnered with, and learnt from experts at agencies such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), and the Forestry Department.
BY Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter