|Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick|
Government is working to alleviate the irrigation challenges of farmers who use lands at Newcastle, St. John and the River Plantation, St. Philip, in particular.
This was disclosed today by Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, in an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service at his Graeme Hall office, Christ Church.
He explained that for a long time his ministry had been experiencing challenges with respect to water management issues, specifically for several areas under the Land Lease Programme of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC).
In this regard, Dr. Estwick pointed out that the River Plantation, which consists of 525 acres of government-owned land, of which 287 are used by 47 farmers, has the capacity to significantly boost agricultural production.
However, he noted the area had become "a major problem for the BADMC", since it was prone to heavy flooding during the rainy season but became essentially drought-like in the dry season.
Consequently, as a way to rectify this situation, he added his ministry had applied to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for a US$300, 000 loan to undertake a feasibility and design study for an irrigation and drainage system at that location.
"I would also want to report that the loan has been approved by the CDB and we can now proceed to do the necessary work, in relation to establishing a long-term water management system at the River Plantation, so that we could alleviate the heavy flooding and allow those lands to be used more effectively on an ongoing basis annually for agricultural production," he disclosed.
The project will be implemented by the BADMC with support from a Project Technical Steering Committee, drawn from representatives of such ministries with responsibility for Economic Affairs, Public Works and Environment as well as the Barbados Water Authority.
Regarding plans for the Newcastle area, the Agriculture Minister announced: "we are far advanced in relation to establishing a proper catchment area for the collection of water in the area and then to have that water pumped to the various farms indicated. We have had monies in the budget for this particular purpose and I would also want to thank the Ministry of Finance for providing us with the funding to go ahead and ensure that that catchment is fully secured and all the necessary irrigation systems for the area of Newcastle are established."
He was of the view that the project would be of "great benefit not only to the persons who are now working in that particular area, but it is a testimony to the fact that we are trying our best to find solutions to assist with increasing agricultural output wherever we can."