Government is working to bring relief to the more than 20 farmers in Newcastle, St. John who are being plagued by water shortages.

This assurance has come from Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, who conducted a tour of the area yesterday with officials from his ministry and the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC).?? The exercise was undertaken to address some of the chronic problems which have been affecting farmers.

He said some 150 acres of farmland was being affected by the shortages, adding that the visit would go a long way in providing solutions and putting an infrastructure in place to deal with the issues.

"With this tour we were able to appreciate what the challenges are, and to have an idea what solutions we could put in place to mitigate those particular challenges in the interest of the farmers’ production," Dr. Estwick explained.??????????????

The Agriculture Minister added: "What I have to do now is to ask the Ministry along with its developmental partners to look at what type of feasibility studies we can put in place at the earliest possible time to get some sort of repairs and upgrades done. [This would help] the people in Newcastle, who would want to grow long-term crops… [to do so]."

He pointed out that his Ministry would also explore some short-term options which would provide relief to the farmers.

"One of the suggestions from the technical group …would be to put in a set of storage facilities and to direct the water to that storage point from further in the hills. They [the irrigation officials] would be able to use that [stored water to assist] farmers in the area immediately," Dr. Estwick explained.

One of the long-term solutions which the Agriculture Minister suggested would be to map the water flows in the district and place them into a large catchment.

Dr. Estwick maintained that this type of catchment facility would not only serve farmers but augment the domestic potable water supply and in turn, benefit the Barbados Water Authority.??

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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