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JIS News

Farmers of the Beacon/Little Park Water Users Association, an entity which operates in the Pedro Plains area of South St. Elizabeth, eagerly await the official commissioning of an irrigation project this week by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
The project forms part of the Government’s National Irrigation Development Master Plan, which is being spearheaded by the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), with a view to increasing farmer participation in the agricultural sector.
This project also complements the government’s long-term agricultural development plan up to the year 2015, by which time it is projected that some 6,900 farming families will have benefited directly from three major projects being undertaken by the NIC and its partners.
Speaking to JIS News about the expected impact of the project on his livelihood, farmer Winston Sinclair, said he was quite happy that water could now be accessed around the clock.
“I think that this is a good thing as the majority of the time the lack of water is what is our biggest problem and if you have the water, you can go through, as once the produce come, we can always find sale for it,” he said.
Mr. Sinclair added that he expected quite a few more persons to get involved in farming once the water is fully turned on.
“Then the challenge will be how best to organise in terms of deciding which members of the group will grow what specific crop, as we don’t want a situation where we create a glut and the price falls as result,” he said.
Mr. Sinclair noted that the use of technology, such as drip irrigation, was bound to make a “significant difference,” as it relates to production costs in the long run.
“My view is that the drip will lead to less fertiliser costs as the application is much more specific. Another advantage of having a constant water supply is that I will not have to worry about getting up to move the sprinkler in the night,” he said.
Female farmer, Tisha Robinson is very upbeat about the water project. “I have been in the business of farming about three years now and I am feeling good, because lack of water caused me to reduce production before. Now that we will be getting a constant supply I intend to engage in much more heavy farming.I intend to expand my production,” she said.
Miss Robinson mentioned some of the various crops she has cultivated over the years.
“I grow water melon, cantaloupe, cucumber and sweet pepper. Right now I have some sweet peppers in the field at my farm in Pedro Plains, which is about two squares in size.once the water comes I will be doing up to five squares of cultivation,” she said.
Miss Robinson praised the work of both the staff of the NIC as well as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
“They have been here imparting much needed information on a regular basis and so we have to say a big thank you to them,” she said.
Vice-Chairman of the Beacon/Little Park Water Users Association, Seymour Simpson told JIS News that the project was a dream come true.
“Maybe some 15 years ago we first came up with the idea of the need to get a regular water supply for the farmers in this area and this was when we were looking at the setting up of a flavour extraction project. Today I am so glad that the Prime Minister will be coming to do the honours, as it has been such a long journey,” he said.
Mr. Simpson said he was quite sure that much higher levels of production would result from the farmers of the Pedro Plains and Hounslow areas.
“We intend to have secured markets for our produce, much of which will be fed into the soon to be launched flavour extraction machine, which is located at Bull Savannah,” he said.