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Cane River farmers finally get help with water woes

Published:Thursday | December 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Eric Young (right), president of the Cane River branch, and Senator Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), try to match fittings to the 5.5 horsepower water pump which was donated by Food For The Poor, during a recent presentation at the JAS head office, 67 Church Street, downtown Kingston. Looking is Paul Burgess, president of the Kingston and St Andrew branch.-CONTRIBUTED

ERIC YOUNG is confident that by next week, farmers in Cane River will begin to benefit from use of a 5.5 horsepower pump which was presented to them on Saturday. Speaking with AgroGleaner on Monday, the president of the Cane River branch of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) was excited about the improvements that will accrue from the water pump which, along with fittings costing more than $100,000, was donated by the JAS and Food For The Poor.

He explained: "We couldn't get nuh water, but right now, we get a pump and I feel so good about it because it will really help us."

Located in East Rural St Andrew close to the Cane River, from which it gets it name, farming there over the past 30 years has been severely affected by extreme weather conditions - among them drought. Cost and other difficulties associated with accessing the nearby water source had forced many farmers to reduce their production or get out of farming.

Those who persisted brought the matter to the attention of the JAS, which sought help from Food For The Poor, which was quick to respond. It was only fitting, then, that the presentation was made at the JAS head office, 67 Church Street, at the monthly meeting of the Kingston and St Andrew Association of Branch Society.

Young explained that the long-term plan is for the construction of a tank, to which the water will be pumped for distribution to individual farmers. However, for the time being, farmers are running pipelines to their farms, to which the water will be pumped at an agreed time. The details of the system are being worked out.

hoping for land

Now that the issue of water availability is being resolved, the Cane River farmers have sought the help of the JAS in accessing a piece of land in the areas located between Cane River and Greenvale, which they contend is owned by the National Water Commission but has been idle for some time. Young contends that the land is ideal for subdivision among farmers for long-term lease to facilitate expansion into chicken, goat and pig rearing for most of the members who are restricted to cash crop and coffee cultivation by the sloping nature of most of the land in the area.

Young argues that the Cane River farmers would welcome legal acquisition of the land, the use of which would translate into a fillip for production and productivity.

"Is a good size - about over 20 acres - and we are asking them if we could get that piece of land. We would just get it surveyed and subdivided and it is going to take an amount (money) to fence it, but we will work hard to do it because we need it."

The matter is now in the hands of JAS management, who will take up the matter with the National Water Commission.

- C. S.