More than 400 farmers in the parishes of Manchester and St. Elizabeth are to benefit from a solar irrigation system being implemented by the National Irrigation Commission (NIC).
Funded at a cost of US$150,000 by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), the project will see the NIC pumps in both parishes relying less on regular electricity supply.
"We are currently looking at phase one of the project to gather data. This data gathering is to last for approximately 18 months and we are partnering with Wigton Windfarm and Digicel, in terms of the infrastructure for the data gathering equipment," said Chief Executive Officer of the NIC, Douglas Walker, at the launch of a rain water harvest project, in Lititz, St. Elizabeth on March 15.
"This data is primarily to point us in the right direction for the location of potential wind turbines, and it is expected to power a grid of approximately five deep well pumps in St. Elizabeth. This is to reduce the cost to the NIC and translates to a reduction in the cost of water to the farmers in the area," Mr. Walker added.
The Hounslow Research and Demonstration facility in St. Elizabeth, which is owned and operated by the NIC, is currently functioning on solar energy. The agency is also preparing its offices for solar operation as a move to cut energy costs, and point the way for sustainable agriculture.
"We are currently in the process of retrofitting the organisation's offices, so as to make the system more energy efficient, and when solar is implemented it will be less a drain on the system. That is a strategic decision taken by the NIC's Board and supported by the staff," Mr. Walker pointed out.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter