Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller on Wednesday, March 20, commissioned into service the New Forest/Duff House Irrigation System in Manchester which will provide a consistent and stable water system for some 497 farmers.
The Prime Minister also handed out land titles to 20 of 132 farmers for whom titles have been prepared under the irrigation project and also announced the setting up of an Agro-Park in the New Forest/Duff House community.
The Prime Minister said that with the new irrigation facility, the farmers of New Forest and Duff House will become part of the exciting, new Agro Park initiative, being spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture. Five Agro Parks are to be established from the re-allocation of US$4 million from the existing IDB-funded agriculture competitiveness programme, with New Forest/Duff House being one of them.
The Prime Minister said the Agro Parks will be equipped with all the facilities required for profitable production with farmers contracted to grow vegetables, tubers, onion and pepper to be marketed via private sector partners either for export, processing, or for the local trade, including the tourism sector.
Highlighting the importance agriculture to the national growth and development strategy, the Prime Minister said this went far beyond “its 6 percent contribution to GDP”, given its significant backward and forward linkages, adding: “With soaring prices of agricultural commodities worldwide, the sector has assumed greater significance due to food security concerns,” and the need to increase food production. Jamaica’s food import bill, the Prime Minister noted was at an unsustainable level of almost US one billion dollars per annum.
In 1998, the government formulated the National Irrigation Development Plan for expanding irrigation systems to farmers. Under this Plan, some 51 projects were developed to increase the irrigated area in Jamaica by 15,000 hectares, with nearly $2 billion spent on installing new irrigation systems.
The New Forest/Duff House Irrigation System was completed with funding assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank which also funded the Colbeck and Yallahs Irrigation Systems.
Contact: Communications Unit-OPM