Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, says over $50 million is being spent to upgrade irrigation systems for farmers in St. Catherine and Clarendon.
He was addressing an irrigation and sensitisation seminar held on Wednesday (May 16), at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon.
Minister Hutchinson informed that along with the projects in the two parishes, the Government is also making investments in the development of the Essex Valley irrigation system in St. Elizabeth.
He said that increasing access to adequate irrigation is a priority of the Ministry in ensuring sustainable growth in the agricultural sector and mitigating the impact of climate change.
He noted that farmers cannot rely on rainfall alone to water crops, and it is of utmost importance that they understand and employ the necessary techniques to manage water resources effectively.
“The future of sustaining the agriculture sector is going to be heavily dependent on our ability to improve and manage our water resources and, in particular, our irrigation systems,” he added.
The Minister reported that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has been working with farmers to improve adaptation of suitable on-farm irrigation systems.
For the 2017/2018 fiscal year, officers from RADA visited 988 farms, installed 12 irrigation/fertigation systems and conducted 237 capacity-building sessions for farmers.
In addition, 120 farmers have been exposed to low-cost rainwater-harvesting systems, and climate-change resilience.
The irrigation and sensitisation seminar was organised by St. Jago Farm and Hardware Supplies in collaboration with NaanDan Jain Irrigation Company.
Minister Hutchinson hailed the organisers, noting that the event addressed a matter that is of critical importance to the sector.