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Six small farmers from North-east St. Elizabeth, who are members of the Elim United Farmer’s Multipurpose Cooperative, have benefited from modern irrigation equipment valued at $400,000, from the Ministry of Agriculture, through its subsidiary agency, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). Each irrigation system consists of a five-horsepower gas pump equipped with a foot valve and suction hose valued at $30,307.00 as well as distribution pipelines at a cost of $36,635.00.
Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke, who presided over the handing over ceremony held at the Cooperative’s headquarters in Elim, said that the donation was in keeping with the Ministry’s “new agricultural development strategy” which sought to reduce or remove much of the constraints faced by farmers in the local agriculture sector.
“Through this programme, we will further strengthen the sector by applying modern methods, which will radically transform agriculture as we know it. Please note that the farmers who are benefiting today have for a long time called for assistance with irrigation as for many years, many of their crops have perished whenever there are periods of drought, and that this happens in spite of the fact that a river runs through the area,” he said.
Minister Clarke pointed out that the irrigation equipment was not just another “hand-out” as each farmer was required to ensure that the equipment was in good working order for the next three years.
“After this time, the pumps and fixture is yours. Do not make the mistake of not sticking to your side of the bargain, which is to go out and farm. RADA will be authorised to monitor the use of the equipment during the contract period,” he said.
Farmer, Mervin Edwards, who responded on behalf of the beneficiaries, thanked the Ministry for the kind gesture, which he said would serve to boost production in Elim.
“We intended to make sure that this investment is not wasted. We will protect our pumps,” he said.
Each farm on which the system will be established range in size from 3.5 to 5.5 acres on which a mixture of crops such as hot peppers, sweet potato, melon, sweet pepper, tomato, cucumber, corn and calalloo is normally cultivated.