Government Embarks on Programme to Expand Irrigation

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • The Government has embarked on a programme to expand irrigation on a number of farmlands located at the southern part of the country.
  • In a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 23), Mr. Samuda argued that in this initiative, priority must be given to rehabilitating irrigation infrastructure that serves the sugar industry.
  • “It is important to secure a minimum 7,500 hectares of sugar cane to ensure the viability of the Monymusk Factory. Beyond that, there are abundant lands suitable for other high-value crops,” he added.

The Government has embarked on a programme to expand irrigation on a number of farmlands located at the southern part of the country.

“The efforts of this Government to expand irrigation is not only admirable, but critical. We are starting with Essex Valley, and there are also initiatives afoot to significantly improve irrigation in Southern St. Catherine and Clarendon, which have the largest tracts of flat contiguous fertile agricultural lands,” Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Karl Samuda, said.

In a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 23), Mr. Samuda argued that in this initiative, priority must be given to rehabilitating irrigation infrastructure that serves the sugar industry.

This, he said, must be done by concreting earthen canals, rehabilitating wells and converting flood systems to pressurised systems to facilitate drip irrigation.

“It is important to secure a minimum 7,500 hectares of sugar cane to ensure the viability of the Monymusk Factory. Beyond that, there are abundant lands suitable for other high-value crops,” he added.

The Minister said that given the inability of irrigation to deal with flooding events and excessive rains, which are poised to become more frequent with climate change, focus must be placed on the rapid expansion of protected agriculture, such as greenhouse and hydroponics.

“At the same time, we have to systematically address some of the structural issues, such as farm roads. In this regard, by the end of the financial year, we will spend in excess of $366 million,” he noted.

He added that a substantial farm road programme will be a permanent feature of the Ministry going forward.

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