Mon | Aug 8, 2022

AgriMin to address water access under Essex Valley development project

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2022 | 12:05 AM
Minister of Agriculture Pearnel Charles Jr.
Minister of Agriculture Pearnel Charles Jr.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, MOAF, has begun hunting for candidates for works to be conducted under the Essex Valley project, an initiative backed by the Caribbean Development Bank that is aimed in part at addressing reliable water access to sustain crops planted by hundreds of farmers in the agricultural community in St Elizabeth.

The Government of Jamaica has received grant financing in an amount equivalent to £35,515,000 from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund towards the cost of the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project through which the works to be contracted are being paid for.

The project covers an irrigation system that will deliver 1,700 cubic metres per hour of water to more than 700 farmers operating on 810 hectares of land in the Essex Valley region and also cover other areas such as the development of marketing facilities to include packaging, sanitation, and food-safety areas.

Marketing services will also be provided to boost farmers’ access to consumers inside and outside of Jamaica.

The MOAF has also invited qualified bidders to apply to carry out construction works on the food safety and sanitation area of the Essex Valley Development Project, the administration building as well as construction of a processing facility. All three projects are being carried out under separate tenders, with closing dates for the bids set at July 28, August 12, and September 2.

QUALIFIED BIDDERS

Construction of the administrative and processing facilities are open to qualified bidders of CDB member countries. The MOAF has already secured drawings for the buildings.

Launched in 2019, the project, slated for completion in August 2022, is now set to culminate in December 2023 due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Overall, the project is expected to improve farmers’ predictability around production numbers and consistencies in the price of produce. Other benefits of the project will be a reduction in disease and pest infestation of some crops and overhead costs borne by farmers during the dry season.

Additionally, it improves on work already undertaken in the area through a separate project backed by the Inter-American Development Ban of Jamaica, the IDB/GOJ-Agricultural Competitiveness Programme, which focused on facilitating the linkage of the primary productive sector with the marketing chain through the promotion of market access, market linkages, food quality and safety management systems, and agribusiness value chains through the agro-parks.

So far, five wells are operational on the property, which can be monitored remotely through a well monitoring information system. Additionally, the MOAF has started phase one of Global GAP assessment for good agricultural practices, purchased pipe storage yard equipment, and has secured contracts for the supply and installation of pipes along with the rehabilitation of roads and drainage.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com