Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, has called on farmers to utilise new irrigation technology to improve crop quality and to increase production.
Mr. Shaw said of the close to 200,000 acres of irrigable lands in Jamaica, about 12 to 13 per cent have been irrigated, adding that it is an issue that needs to be corrected.
Giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony for Isratech Jamaica Limited’s new retail outlet and complex in Reading, St. James, on Wednesday (October 10), the Minister said the technology is available to erect cost-effective irrigation systems for both small and large farmers.
In this regard, he urged farmers to get their lands irrigated, especially for farms cultivated on slopes.
“The land is sloping, so you get your plastic tanks and you put them on the hillside and you get some Isratech lines with the drip irrigation and you run them into the fields where you’re planting. No energy is needed, because gravity will take the water from the hillside down into the fields,” the Minister said.
In the meantime, Mr. Shaw has renewed the call for Jamaicans to invest more in farming on idle lands across the island.
“We have idle lands in St. Catherine, Clarendon, some areas of Westmoreland and Trelawny, all waiting on the promise of sugar to come back. Sugar is not going to come back to use the volume of idle lands that we have here in Jamaica,” he emphasised.
Mr. Shaw said that while the Ministry has received hundreds of applications from farmers for investment in the agricultural sector, more persons need to utilise lands made available from the decline in sugar-cane production.
The Minister declared that Jamaica’s economy cannot grow unless agriculture grows.