Agriculture Ministry to resuscitate rainwater storage areas Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Rainwater storage areas are to be resuscitated to provide farmers with greater access to the amenity for irrigation.

This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Hon. Floyd Green, during the opening ceremony for the 69th Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial, and Food Show at the Denbigh Showground in May Pen, Clarendon on Saturday (August 5).

He said the harvesting of rainwater is critical “so that in times of drought, we have that”. “A lot of storage areas were developed, largely during the [1960s] and [1970s].

A lot of them, run by the parish councils in heavy farming areas, [are] not being used. I have tasked RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) and NIC (National Irrigation Commission) to go and put them into storage production again so that our farmers can get the benefit. We are thinking about how we can treat with climate change, not just for the present, but how we treat with it moving forward,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Green informed that the Ministry will work with farmers to install pond liners in already dug out areas that can be used for rainwater harvesting. “We have a facility now that, if our farmers are willing to partner with us and do some of the work to excavate… we will come with the pond liners to help them have ponds that they can utilise for their farms.

We are doing that for single entrepreneurs. We are doing that for clusters of farmers, and we have identified 60 that we are going to be working with,” he further shared. Mr. Green said the Ministry will also be purchasing three water trucks in addition to trucking water to communities as part of efforts to increase farmers’ access to the amenity, and advised that an additional $104 million has been provided for the undertaking.

“We have also put [aside] some resources to provide mulch for the farmers who utilise [this] in their planting process,” the Minister informed. Mr. Green said these interventions form part of the drought mitigation strategy being implemented by the Ministry.

Meanwhile, he advised that the Ministry will continue to implement strategies to ensure that growth is realised in the industry. The sector recorded over 800,000 tonnes of domestic crop production for 2022, compared to over 700,000 tonnes the previous year. “We saw seven consecutive quarters of growth in agriculture… this was despite COVID-19; our farmers continued to do extremely well.

We did see a first quarter of decline… by around nine per cent, and I do expect, going into the second quarter, we will see an additional decline,” Mr. Green said

. “The good news is that the interventions of the Ministry have slowed our decline tremendously. So while we are declining, the rate of decline could be a lot worse because when we look at the figures, we are still in the region of when we were doing average, so we have declined.

But we are still where we were before we reached the highs of 2021 and 2022 and I think that is largely because the Ministry has been doing tremendous interventions,” he added. The three-day Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, which ends on Monday (August 7), is being staged by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining.