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  • Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) is to be comprehensively overhauled in a bid to further maximize the entity’s outputs by reducing water lost in the process of transmission to farmers.
  • This, he anticipates, will be achieved through initiatives to upgrade the NIC’s facilities, such as the lining of canals, and converting open canal systems, to pressurized ones.
  • These proposed interventions form part of the Ministry’s overall focus on improving irrigation water systems islandwide, in a bid to further boost agricultural outputs and, thereby, safeguard Jamaica’s food security.

Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) is to be comprehensively overhauled in a bid to further maximize the entity’s outputs by reducing water lost in the process of transmission to farmers.

This, he anticipates, will be achieved through initiatives to upgrade the NIC’s facilities, such as the lining of canals, and converting open canal systems, to pressurized ones.

These proposed interventions form part of the Ministry’s overall focus on improving irrigation water systems islandwide, in a bid to further boost agricultural outputs and, thereby, safeguard Jamaica’s food security.

Mr. Kellier made the disclosure while delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony for day two of the 63rd Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, in May Pen, Clarendon, on Emancipation Day, Saturday, August 1.

In noting that only seven per cent of Jamaica’s irrigable lands are currently being provided with water, Mr. Kellier, said the Ministry’s mission is, therefore, to move quickly to have a significantly greater proportion of those areas irrigated.

To this end, he advised that the Ministry will seek to implement irrigation projects in parishes and communities most adversely impacted by the prevailing drought, using the National Irrigation Development Plan, citing Comma Pen and Essex in St. Elizabeth, as examples.

Mr. Kellier also said that the installation of non-traditional schemes, such as catchment ponds, micro dams, mini dams, and earthen ponds, will also be pursued, adding that his team will be enlisting the support of the Cuban government, in this regard.

The Minister also advised that a $300 million irrigation project, developed at the Spring Plain/Ebony Park Agro Park in Clarendon, will be commissioned into operation, which will bring the nearly 3,000 acre property into full production.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kellier commended the nation’s farmers for their resilience in continuing to grow the agricultural sector, despite the adverse drought conditions impacting stakeholders over the past two years.

“It is as a result of their resilience that the sector continues to grow, with our food bill declining last year by US$43.6 million, the largest decline since 2009. It is also because of our farmers’ undying commitment to the sector that, despite the country experiencing the worst drought in years, domestic agricultural production rebounded and recorded a 3.4 per cent increase in production for the first quarter of (this) year,” he said.