Thu | Mar 22, 2018

Drip irrigation project targets food security

Published:Wednesday | December 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The Government is moving to safeguard Jamaica's food security against the impact of climate change through the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) drip irrigation project.

Agricultural specialist with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, which implements REDI, Vincent Thompson, said the project is an "aggressive approach" to minimising the debilitating effects of climate change on agriculture.

Thompson says despite Jamaica not experiencing extreme drought conditions this year, as prevailed in 2015, resulting in hiked food prices due to reduced outputs, the Government is endeavouring to be proactive in safeguarding the nation's food supply.

This, he adds, is due to the unpredictable nature of climate change.

Thompson reports that phases one and two of the project, undertaken in 2014 and 2015, respectively, have positively impacted nearly 1,160 farmers in 13 communities in St Catherine, St Thomas, Trelawny, Manchester and south St Elizabeth.

The farmers were provided with irrigation lines, drip kits, 1,000-gallon water-storage tanks and harvesting implements.

They were also exposed to innovative farming techniques, food safety practices, business management, record keeping and marketing strategies.

The beneficiaries, who are members of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) Limited Water Users Association, were provided with water from NIC pumping stations, such as the facility in New Forest, Manchester, and guided on efficient irrigation methodologies.

Phase three will benefit 690 farmers in the south St Elizabeth communities of Tryall, Red Bank, Ballards Valley, Essex Valley, Flagaman and Top Hill, where the fertigation technique was introduced to increase outputs.

Fertigation is the injection of fertilisers, soil additives and other water-soluble inputs into an irrigation system. This is then applied directly to the plant root for optimal delivery of nutrients.