Jamaica News: Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, says farmers, particularly those in St. Elizabeth and Manchester, have been resilient in their efforts to sustain Jamaica’s food security, despite challenges, including drought.
He was speaking at the official launch of the Essex Valley Agriculture Project in St. Elizabeth, on January 16, at the Lititz Primary School, in the parish.
The project, which represents one of the largest investments in irrigation infrastructure in Jamaica, will impact the livelihoods of over 700 farmers on 718 hectares of land through the provision of irrigated water and improved access to local and global agricultural markets.
Mr. Shaw said the project signals a “bold and exemplary instance of agricultural development in Jamaica.”
“We have launched a programme that will demonstrate tangibly, the results of identifying and deliberately targeting strategic development goals,” he added.
The project, which is being funded at a cost of £35. 5 million by the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) and administered through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), seeks to enhance the productivity of farmers in the Essex Valley, in a socially inclusive, gender equitable and climate sensitive manner.
In this regard, he says Government recognises the need to expand the reach of irrigation in production areas, in order to further enhance the production and productivity of farmers.
“For many years farmers in St. Elizabeth and Manchester, in spite of various challenges, such as drought, floods and bushfires, have a demonstrated their capacity for hard work and resilience. They have stuck to their calling and to their commitment to feed our country and support our food security. This commitment must never be taken lightly. I am therefore pleased to be involved in this landmark project,” the Minister said.
“Our wealth as a country resides in the land and my Ministry is committed to matching our lands with willing hands to create opportunities for employment and for growth. It is for this reason that one of the main goals of my Ministry is to create competitive diversified and market-oriented agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors,” he added.
Mr. Shaw noted that the Essex Valley Agriculture Project will augment some of the work already undertaken in that section of the island through projects such as the Agricultural Competitiveness Programme, which ended in May 2018.
For his part, Head of the United Kingdom Department for International Development in the Caribbean, Stefan Kossoff, said the UK government is proud to be providing grant funding to modernise Jamaica’s agricultural production and ensure that it meets the requirements of export markets and the tourism industry.
He called on those involved to work cohesively “to ensure the smooth and efficient delivery of the project, so that the potential benefits from this investment are fully realised in a timely fashion.”
In the meantime, farmers in Essex Valley and surrounding areas have welcomed the agriculture project, noting that it will help to improve production and the quality of their produce.
Dowen Simpson of Farm, St. Elizabeth, who has spent all his life on the farm, told JIS News that he is highly appreciative of the project, as it will help farmers, especially during periods of drought.
Source: JIS News