- $3 billion to install modern irrigation facilities in support of sustainable agricultural production in the country.
- Government is taking a planned approach to agricultural development
- Production already underway in six agro parks, it is projected that by 2015 all nine will be in operation
Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller says Government has spent well over $3 billion to install modern irrigation facilities in support of sustainable agricultural production in the country.
She noted that in 1998 when the National Irrigation Development Plan (NIDP) was developed, there was a consciousness that irrigation must play a critical role in lifting agricultural production and productivity.
The Prime Minister was delivering the keynote address at the commissioning of the $395 million Yallahs irrigation system and launch of the Yallahs Agro Park in St. Thomas, on January 23.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said that the six projects implemented so far under the NIDP, have collectively brought 2,000 hectares under production.
“The recipients of public irrigation are no longer predominantly cane farmers in the southern belt, but also farmers from areas where our small domestic food crop farmers operate,” the Prime Minister informed.
These include places such as Phillipsfield and East Albion in St. Thomas; Ebony Park, Clarendon; Bushy Park, St. Catherine; Seven Rivers, St. James and Hounslow, St. Elizabeth.
The Prime Minister explained that the Government is taking a planned approach to agricultural development, in the same way that it is doing in other sectors, as “for too long in the past we have approached agricultural development in a splintered way.”
She asserted that the agro parks are here to stay, as they represent a major plank of the Government’s growth strategy.
“The agro parks are intended to foster a more commercial approach to agriculture, utilizing best practices. Government’s role in this is to provide, where possible, lands with requisite infrastructure. This include irrigation, drainage, roads and post-harvest facilities,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
“The Government also facilitates contracts between farmers and end-users. It is the farmers, however, who must produce and sell their crops and livestock. Farmers must therefore bring their working capital and their expertise,” she added.
Mrs. Simpson Miller emphasized that the Government is proceeding “full speed ahead” with the agro park programme, which will eventually put some 8,000 acres into sustainable farming.
She acknowledged the contributions of the many small farmers, noting that through their efforts, in the September to December quarter of 2013 the domestic food crop sector grew by 14 per cent, compared to the corresponding quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, said with production already underway in six agro parks, it is projected that by 2015 all nine will be in operation.
The locations are Amity Hall and Hill Run, St. Catherine; Ebony Park and Spring Plain, Clarendon; Plantain Garden and Yallahs, St. Thomas; New Forrest/Duff House, Manchester/St. Elizabeth; Ettingdon, Trelawny; and Meylersfield, Westmoreland.
Mr. Clarke informed that through the establishment of the parks, the Ministry is continuing the expansion of the ginger and turmeric programme to increase ginger production by 43 per cent and produce 2,300 metric tonnes of turmeric.
“We also plan to achieve increased production in Irish potato from 70 to 100 per cent of local demand through a strategic partnership with you the farmers, the People’s Cooperative Bank and a consortium of buyers,” he said.