JIS News

Donald Buchanan, Minister of Water and Housing today (Nov. 23) signed two contracts valued at approximately $126 million, to begin second phase works on the three flagship projects identified under the National Irrigation Development Programme.
The first phase of the programme, Contract C, was signed nearly a year ago, and saw the construction for the Pedro Plains Irrigation System, which is now almost completed.
The two latest contracts -A and D – were signed at a special function at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston. Contract A was awarded to YP Seaton and Associates and will see just under $24 million being spent for the installation of pipes, fittings, valves and appurtenances for the Seven Rivers Irrigation System in St. James.
Contract D, valued at more than $102 million, was awarded to Jamaica Wells for the supply and installation of the pumps and switchgears for the Beacon/Little Park and Hounslow wells in St. Elizabeth.
“The signing of Contract A today signals the beginning of the construction phase of the Seven Rivers Irrigation System, the second of the three flagship projects,” said Minister Buchanan, adding that the project was geared towards serving some 32 small farmers and increasing rural employment to some 2, 636 persons. Construction of the Seven Rivers Irrigation System will commence in January 2006 and should be completed within nine months.
He noted that the award of Contract D, signaled the commencement of the final phase of construction for the Pedro Plains system, which should be completed in April of next year.
At that time, the Minister said, the contract for the rehabilitation of the Hounslow Irrigation System, the last of the three flagship projects, would be signed. The rehabilitated system will serve 420 farmers on 486 hectares of land. It will also provide an additional 58,220 person days or rural employment, equivalent to about 225 full-time jobs.
The projects are part of the National Irrigation Development Master Plan, prepared by the National Irrigation Commission, to increased farmer participation in the agricultural sector and complement the government’s long term agricultural development plan up to the year 2015.
The NIDP evaluated over 125 projects island wide and recommended 51 of these at a cost of US$106.3 million up to the year 2015. The plan, when fully implemented, will increase the country’s irrigated area by some 60 percent and directly benefit over 6,900 farm families.
It will also generate an average increase of US$55 million in annual income, consisting of US$32 million of income to farm families, and US$23 million in wages to farm labour as well as increase total annual agricultural production by US$132.5 million.
Meanwhile, Minister Buchanan announced that the NIC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (ASSP) to assume responsibility for the agricultural technical services component of the project.
An Agribusiness Development officer, he informed, had been recruited and has began working with the beneficiaries of the project from his office in Hounslow, St. Elizabeth.

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