Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, says the Government has committed $30 million for the implementation of five water harvesting projects in St. Ann.
This is being done to combat drought and other problems resulting from climate change, the Minister said as he addressed the Hinds Town/Orange Park Farmers Group Meeting in Hinds Town, St. Ann, on February 8.
“As we all know, farming is the main source of income for people who reside in rural communities. Unfortunately, climate change has resulted in us experiencing extreme weather events, such as droughts, storms and hurricanes. This, in the past, has resulted in the loss of income, property and lives,” the Minister noted.
Mr. Hutchinson said that in recognition of the impact of climate variability and climate change, the Ministry, through the Adaptation Fund Programme, has embarked on a deliberate strategy to facilitate investments in alternative water harvesting and management methods, such as the establishment of rainwater harvesting and gravity drip irrigation systems.
The Ministry, he added, will provide training in efficient water use and climate change adaptation techniques to improve soil moisture retention and disaster risk management.
“Through this programme, we aim to enhance climate resilience of the agricultural sector by improving water and land management in selected rural communities in the parishes of Manchester, Trelawny, St. Mary, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. Ann, which face the greatest level of risk,” Mr. Hutchinson explained.
The Minister implored the farmers to be “climate smart,” adding that they should apply new measures and techniques to protect farms and livelihoods from climate change.
“There are many benefits to be derived from implementing these systems. For example, construction of catchment areas leads to increased storage and a reduction in the level of run-off, thus mitigating flooding while producing a source of irrigation to ensure crop productivity, even in dry periods. Important also, with adequate water supply, your crops will be less susceptible to pest infestation and diseases,” he said.
The Minister told the farmers that he is particularly heartened that in the water-starved Hinds Town, work is in progress to construct a much-needed one million gallon reservoir for water harvesting.
“This reservoir will be complemented by on-farm drip irrigation systems, subject to the capacity that the reservoir will be able to sustain,” he pointed out.
Other communities in which water harvesting projects are being undertaken in this parish are McNie and Frank Hall, where phase one has already been completed, and phase two will commence shortly. Similar projects will also be carried out in Walkers Wood and Blackstone Edge, the Minister said.
Mr. Hutchinson informed the farmers that the sustainability of the projects depended wholly on their participation in the training that is being provided in proper land husbandry and water management.
“I encourage you to make good of this opportunity, thus ensuring the viability of your crops,” he added.