Sat | Feb 27, 2021

Gov’t to spend $20m to revive micro dams for farmers

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Sixty-year-old James Ferguson of Cherry in St Catherine tending to crops on his farm on Thursday as he spoke about some challenges he daces as a small farmer.
Sixty-year-old James Ferguson of Cherry in St Catherine tending to crops on his farm on Thursday as he spoke about some challenges he daces as a small farmer.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is to spend $20 million to resuscitate an islandwide micro dam project to assist farmers to access water during periods of drought.

The announcement was made on Thursday by Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green during a virtual forum with stakeholders in the local agriculture sector.

Green acknowledged that one of the real challenges facing the agriculture sector is the inability to harvest water in times of plenty to make it available to provide relief for farmers during the dry period.

“A number of dams, a number of catchment areas were built across our history. Unfortunately, a lot of them have been left unmaintained and have gone into ruin. So instead of reinventing the wheel, the first thing we are doing are identifying catchment areas that can be resuscitated and put back into collection of water and production immediately,” Green told stakeholders, adding that some funds have been allocated to start that process.

“We are also looking at how we can do inland ponds to serve our farmers in the protected zones. ... I believe it was a good idea then, still a good idea now. What we have to ensure is that we don’t make some of the mistakes of the past. So in our new strategy, not only are we developing these catchment areas, but we’re putting a management framework in place, working with the local government, to ensure that they do not fall back into ruin,” Green added.

The micro dam project was first implemented under the Michael Manley-led administration of the 1970s; but over time, some of the catchments fell into ruin due to lack of maintenance.

The agricultural sector has been suffering millions in losses annually as a result of drought and brush fires caused by extreme heat waves and droughts.

– Gareth Davis Sr