Relief is on the horizon for farmers who have been experiencing drainage and irrigation issues at River Plantation, St. Philip.
This will be achieved when the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) shortly embarks on a project which is expected to alleviate some of these problems.
Manager of Agricultural Services at the BADMC, Ronnie Brathwaite, explained that the department would implement an expanded irrigation and improved drainage system as part of an interim project expected to cost BDS $235,000.
"We want to put [in] a centralised irrigation system so we can provide [water] to more farmers at River Plantation. Currently, only the farmers in close proximity to the Three Houses stream and the catchment pond can access irrigation….Seeing that River [Plantation] is about 500 acres, we want to provide the means for all of our farmers to have access to irrigation water."
Forty-eight farmers presently operate at the plantation with another 47 expected to be part of the BADMC’s expansion plans. Presently, the BADMC utilises one catchment and the Three Houses stream in St. Philip for irrigation.
Mr. Brathwaite pointed out: "What we are doing now in the short-term, we are trying to provide an irrigation system for the farmers who are currently there as well as the ones who are expected to arrive [in] the next three months or so.
"If you could appreciate it’s a large plantation and the stream does not run throughout all of River [Plantation]….We will make sure persons who are quite a distance away from the water source can actually access irrigation water. So it will help to improve the production of some of the farmers who are currently only using rain-fed crop production," the Agricultural Services Manager explained.
Another aspect of the interim project will be the digging of five new wells as well as the cleaning and maintenance of the existing 32 suck wells on the property to alleviate any drainage issues such as flooding during the wet season. Work is expected to commence within the next few weeks.
Another larger, long-term project is also slated for the area. This will be funded by the Caribbean Development Bank to the tune of US $350,000.
It will be carried out in two phases: a feasibility and detailed design study and an implementation and construction phase, if feasible.
With regard to other farming districts, Mr. Brathwaite added that the BADMC was seeking to carry out expansion work at the Spring Hall Land Lease Project in St. Lucy but not to the extent of the River Plantation.
"The irrigation infrastructure in St. Lucy is already extensive. There are only about another 20 acres which we need to expand irrigation to in the Spring Hall Land Lease Project," he disclosed.