Support for farmers impacted by drought conditions Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining has earmarked $90 million to provide support to the nation’s farmers who are being impacted by the current drought conditions.

The money is to be used to truck water, provide drip irrigation and other assistance for crop and livestock farmers as part of the ministry’s drought mitigation programme.

Portfolio Minister Floyd Green provided an update during the $106 million contract signing ceremony for the Agro-Investment Corporation Irrigation Transmission Force Main and Equipping Project at Ebony Park in Clarendon, at the ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in St Andrew on April 11.

He said the $90 million incorporates the $60 million support that was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently in the House of Representatives.

Green said $24 million will be used to truck water to crop and livestock farmers in several parishes.

“We are also expanding the parishes of focus, so we would have started with Clarendon, St Elizabeth, Manchester and Trelawny. Based on all our information, we are incorporating now, Westmoreland, Portland and St Ann into our drought mitigation programme,” he said.

Additionally, he indicated that $58 million is to be used to boost the resiliency of farmers through the provision of irrigation kits, storage tanks and drip hoses.

“So ultimately, when rain does come, when water does come, our farmers will be able to harvest and to use more efficiently in periods of drought,” he said.

Furthermore, he stated that $8 million is to go towards the establishment of catchment areas for farmers. He elaborated that the ministry is to provide assistance to farmers to establish catchment areas once they have identified the space.

“We will provide you the pond liner free of cost… and also equipment support to prepare the area for the pond liner, because what we want is that when the rain does come, that we do not allow it to go to waste, and we are harvesting it to use to drive our production,” he said

The minister urged farmers to contact their RADA offices and the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) for the assistance. 

“The parishes across our RADA network and also NIC should already have some allocations, and we are going to be doing some more during the course of this week into next week….  We will stand with you during these times,” he said.

He commended the nation’s farmers for their strength and resilience, in spite of the dry conditions they experienced last year and are currently experiencing.

“Our farmers are truly passionate about agriculture, and that’s why as a ministry, we have to do all we can to provide the farmers with the infrastructure that they need to do what they love,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, he lauded the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI ) II programme for the undertaking  that will facilitate the installation of 1.8 kilometres of force transmission main and pump switch gear, along with the rehabilitation of the pump at the Ebony Park Agro Park.

“I think it is critical that we continue to work together, continue to expand our irrigation, continue to innovate, collaborate and, ultimately, continue to lead growth,” said Green.

Other speakers at the ceremony included Managing Director, JSIF, Omar Sweeney; Director, Finance and Corporate Planning, National Irrigation Commission, Lillian Smith; Chief Executive Officer, Agro-Investment Corporation, Vivion Scully; and Programme Lead, The World Bank Group, Emre Ozaltin.

The project aims to bring 93 acres of fertile farmland within the Ebony Park Agro Park into full production. Additionally, it is to benefit investors operating on approximately 950 acres at the Spring Plain and Mango agro parks.