Hundreds of farmers from Lititz and surrounding communities in South St. Elizabeth are to benefit from a small-scale irrigation system set up by the Government, through the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC), at a cost of $6.5 million.
The system, deemed necessary due to the historical pattern of low rainfall in the area, is supported by rainwater harvesting facilities. There are also drip irrigation systems powered by solar power on four demonstration plots, where the farmers are trained.
Farmers to benefit from the irrigation system are trained by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the NIC.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, on November 6, led a team from the Ministry on a tour of the project and also to get a first-hand view of the demonstration to farmers.
“The Government, through co-operation from multilaterals, invest in these projects (to assist farmers),” he said, noting that water is quite expensive, because about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the production of water is foreign exchange.
“One of the problems we have is to convince the ordinary Jamaican that water is far from free…because once you start to store it, purify it, distribute it… all those elements involve foreign exchange,” the Minister pointed out.
He indicated that the biggest customer of the Jamaica Public Service Company was the National Water Commission (NWC), as some $500 million is paid out each month for water.
“As the Minister in charge of water, I want to make that fact known, so a project like this must be handled with care, because we are in the business now of harvesting water, not only for agricultural purposes, but certainly for domestic purposes,” the Minister said.
“A lot of tanks have been abandoned in terms of the wider society and they have to be rehabilitated, because with climate change, the weather and rainfall cannot be easily predicted,” he added.
The Minister congratulated all the persons involved in the project, describing it as “very essential and worthwhile,” which should enhance agricultural production and the lives of the citizens.