RADA ramps up water harvesting programme in St Elizabeth
THE Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), in order to help alleviate the challenges faced by farmers annually in the farming areas of St Elizabeth because of a lack of water, is ramping up its water harvesting programme in sections of the parish.
Deputy RADA Parish Manager Marvin Lawrence said part of the drought mitigation programme being undertaken is the construction of water harvesting ponds in several farming communities.
"We have been partnering with some donor agencies to do water harvesting ponds and this has been successful. It is not yet at the level where we are comfortable, but there are a number of potential partners that we intend to write, to see how best, with their support, we can construct some more of these ponds," Lawrence told JIS News.
Water-harvesting ponds, he said, have been serving farmers well and in time to come, and with new ponds coming on stream, the challenges faced by farmers during periods of drought should be eased significantly.
He said RADA would continue to assist farmers who lose their crops as a result of a sustained period of drought or even in cases where there is flooding.
"Whenever the drought is on, we have a programme in which seeds are given to the farmers to replant lost crops. We are also engaged in the trucking of water to such areas as Junction, Southfield, Malvern and Pedro Plains. We are also working with the farmers to ensure that measures are put in place to eliminate flooding of their farms, through the construction of drains," Lawrence said.
He added that RADA's sensitisation programme regarding drought and flood mitigation is continuing. "In order to get the stakeholders to understand the effects of these natural disasters and how they can play a role in preventing (flooding) and how to use the limited resources well in the case of
a drought, we continue
our programme," Lawrence noted.
"The parish is divided into 13 extension areas and these are served by our officers. We normally do two field days across the parish each month, in which we target issues directly related to agriculture. A need assessment is done and the necessary action is implemented to assist the farmers," he added.
St Elizabeth, which is regarded as the bread basket parish of Jamaica, produces 22 per cent of the national domestic food needs, through fruits and vegetables, poultry, beef and tubers.