Hundreds of farmers will benefit from a US$200-million irrigation scheme as the Government seeks to designate the Pedro Plains Irrigation Scheme as a “national strategic project”.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness as he made his contribution to the 2023-2024 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (March 16).
“The Plains of St Elizabeth are among the most fertile in our country. The farmers, despite not having irrigation, have proven to be the best in the world. Through the support of the French Government, we undertook a feasibility study to take water from the Black River and use it to irrigate the plains of St Elizabeth,” said Holness.
He noted that, for decades, farmers have been clamouring for irrigation systems in the area and the project will see hundreds of farmers from communities in Flagaman, Greenfield, Southfield and Top Hill benefitting from its establishment.
The multimillion-dollar project was designed by a team of French engineers who costed its implementation. The irrigation scheme will be also be financed through a combination of Jamaica’s own resources, grants and loan funding from the French Government.
Additionally, Holness said that the Essex Valley Irrigation Scheme is “now moving apace”.
The Essex irrigation project was originally scheduled to end in June 2023, but the Government said that progress was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. The project is now set to conclude in December 2023.
The Essex Valley region is home to 700 farmers operating on 810 hectares of land. A budget of $4.3 billion was approved to deliver 1,700 cubic metres per hour of water to serve farmers in parts of St Elizabeth and Manchester.
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