JIS News

Small farmers from several districts in St Catherine have received water tanks and irrigation equipment to establish drip irrigation systems on their farms.
The farmers received the systems at concessionary rates, and are only required to repay a portion of the cost over a two year period. These farmers are outside of the areas serviced by the National Irrigation Commission’s (NIC) systems and many have to carry water by hand to their fields.
They include Hazel Tenn, from Benbow, St. Catherine, who told the JIS News that she has been carrying water from a water hole that she dug close to her field to water the sweet pepper, dasheen and tomatoes she is farming.
“It is very hard. When I heard about this Black Tank programme I was very appreciative. The stress is now over,” she celebrated.
Speaking at the handover ceremony for the tanks, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, congratulated the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), who are partners in the initiative.
He expressed the hope that it will set the stage for other entities to follow, as water is a critical ingredient in the transformation of the sector and the programme could help farmers to overcome some of their challenges.
Minister Tufton said more farmers needed to move away from planting by rainfall, to better respond to the needs of the market.
“The Ministry is encouraging farmers to grow what people want, in the quantities that they want, without gluts and shortages and unstable pricing. Drip irrigation is one measure to achieve this, and produce more crops from the same amount of land, thereby increasing productivity,” he added.
He said that this was the main aim of the Black Tank project.

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