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    • The Government has embarked on a programme to rehabilitate several irrigation canals that have deteriorated over many years.
    • This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, during his contribution to the 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on April 5.
    • The Minister emphasised that water is critical to the economic growth and development of the country, and the Government, through the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, is committed to the development of the sector.

    The Government has embarked on a programme to rehabilitate several irrigation canals that have deteriorated over many years.

    This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, during his contribution to the 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on April 5.

    “We are also seeking to expand irrigation on the southern plains, stretching from St. Elizabeth through to sections of South Manchester, South Clarendon, Central St. Catherine all the way to Eastern St. Thomas.

    The global picture is to bring quality irrigation systems to these southern plains in order to transform the agricultural sector,” Dr. Chang said.

    He noted that the first major project under this initiative, the Essex Valley Agricultural Development Project in St. Elizabeth, should commence later this year.

    Dr, Chang informed that the project will involve renewable energy and will result in reduced cost and improved agricultural infrastructure to ensure sustainability.

    The project will be funded through a grant from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund. Implementation of the project will be managed through the National Irrigation Commission, along with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) and the Agro-Investment Corporation.

    Dr. Chang also said that there are three other irrigation projects that are being contemplated – the South Clarendon, Central St. Catherine and Kitson Town Rural Water Infrastructure Project and the expansion of the Pedro Plains Irrigation System using the Black River surface flows.

    “It is the intention of the Government to use the entire quota from the Infrastructure Fund for irrigation, and we will seek additional funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and other multilateral agencies if necessary,” he said.

    The Minister emphasised that water is critical to the economic growth and development of the country, and the Government, through the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, is committed to the development of the sector.