KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining has allocated an additional $104 million towards drought mitigation efforts for farmers.
Portfolio Minister Floyd Green, made the announcement during a statement to the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
“To address the challenges of water scarcity and drought caused by climate change, we have initiated a comprehensive programme for the trucking of water to farming communities. This programme aims to provide temporary relief by delivering water to areas where access to irrigation water is limited,” Green said.
He added that the water trucks will transport water to farmers in need and that some $8 million has been allocated towards this activity.
“I will say to Members of Parliament that I will be reaching out to you to identify registered farmers who are in need of water on their farms,” Green said.
Additionally, in light of climate change impacts on agriculture, including unpredictable rainfall patterns and increased pest pressure, the Government has implemented an initiative to provide vegetable seeds.
“Our vegetable line has been the hardest hit by this drought…We are seeing significant reduction, and as such, we are going to be providing vegetable seeds to farmers across the country to ensure we can get production up,” Green said.
“These seeds are carefully selected to withstand varying climatic conditions, ensuring a more reliable and sustainable food supply. We have allocated $20 million to this activity,” he added.
Green also informed that several farmers have utilised mulch, using grass to spread on the soil to keep it cool.
Mulching plays a vital role in conserving soil moisture, reducing weed growth, and maintaining soil temperature.
“We are making an allocation of about $3 million to help our farmers in the sourcing of mulch. Through this programme, farmers will receive adequate quantities of organic mulch materials such as straw, leaves, or grass clippings to help farmers cover their crops,” Green said.
Recognising the importance of efficient water management in agriculture, the ministry has implemented a programme to provide farmers with irrigation kits.
Green said $10 million has been allocated to provide irrigation drip kits for some farmers.
These kits will minimise water wastage, improve water-use efficiency, and enable farmers to sustain their production even during periods of water scarcity.
The minister also informed that to enhance water availability for agricultural purposes and ensure long-term water security, activities will be undertaken regarding the rehabilitation of water-catchment areas across the country.
“This involves activities such as desilting reservoirs, constructing check dams, and implementing soil conservation techniques and, importantly, rehabilitating these catchment areas so we can increase their water-holding capacity, improve water quality, and enhance the resilience. We have identified $15 million to rehabilitate catchment areas across Jamaica,” Green said.
‘Also, three water trucks are to be procured at a cost of $48 million as part of the Government’s commitment to addressing water-scarcity issues.
“These trucks will be deployed strategically in areas with limited water access and will support the trucking of water to farming communities. These trucks will facilitate the timely delivery of water to farmers in need, ensuring that their agricultural activities can continue even in the face of water shortages,” the minister said.
Green also informed that the ministry's Agricultural Disaster Risk Management Committee has been tasked to continue the evaluation of the impact of drought conditions and identify practical solutions that will allow farmers to sustainably continue their farming enterprises.
In March of this year, the ministry provided support to farmers through the Drought Adaption (Mitigation) Programme in the amount of $202 million.
Of this amount, $110 million was dedicated to the expansion of initiatives undertaken by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), National Irrigation Commission (NIC) and the Agro Investment Corporation (AIC).
The ministry also implemented a $63-million flood response programme that included the provision of 7,000 pounds of planting material to cover 85 hectares, 25 acres of mulch, 13 graded small ruminants, 9,300 baby chicks and 685 bags of feed.