Feasibility study for irrigation system to serve Pedro Plains farmers

Sunday, June 17, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Feasibility studies are being done for the establishment of an irrigation system that will take water from the Black River to supply farmers in the Pedro Plains of St Elizabeth.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Audley Shaw, said the proposed project could bring millions of dollars in investments to improve the infrastructure of the parish.

He was addressing the launch of the 66th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, at the Hi-Pro Supercentre in White Marl, St Catherine last week Friday.

Shaw said that “more serious action” needs to be taken to improve farmers' access to irrigation in order to increase agricultural productivity and boost economic growth.

He informed that the Ministry will be reviewing the progress of the Essex Valley Agricultural Development Project in order “to move on a more aggressive basis.”

The project seeks to establish an irrigation system to bring water to over 700 hectares of agricultural land in St Elizabeth.

It is being funded through a grant of 35.5 million from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), which is administered by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Turning to other matters, Shaw informed that the $800-million project to upgrade the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in Old Harbour, St Catherine, is progressing well and work on the seed storage station is nearly completed.

The seed station will improve the way genetic material is stored in order to prevent losses over time.

“Our viability as a sector depends on this. This is how we will enhance our ability to bounce back after extremities and improve our production,” Shaw said.

He informed that the dairy facility has been expanded into a modern centre and the piggery unit is being improved to first-world standard to produce high-quality genetic material.

“Our labs will also be improved to put us on a solid platform for cutting-edge and world class research and development, improving our ability to not only keep pace but overhaul what we do futuristically,” he said.

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