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Multi-million dollar irrigation installed at Yallahs agro park

Published:Sunday | January 26, 2014 | 4:35 PM

A new J$395 million irrigation system was officially commissioned into service last Thursday in Yallahs, St Thomas by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

The new system was installed at the newly developed Yallahs Agro Park - a 22-acre onion production facility - that was also commissioned by the prime minister.

“The commissioning of this project, today, is meant to restore the Yallahs Valley to its former productive state and to serve as a major boost to rural development,” Simpson Miller said.

She said the irrigation system, implemented through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), will satisfy the farmers east of the Yallahs River, which includes areas such as Phillipsfield, Heartease and Norris, with those operating at the western end to benefit under a second phase of the project, which is being conceptualised.

Prime Minister Simpson Miller also announced that the Government with the support of the IDB, and through the Agricultural Competitiveness Programme (ACP), will invest another J$46 million for farm roads and drainage, and to construct a packing house in Yallahs.

“I am pleased to advise that as we speak, tenders have been advertised for these works,” she stated.

She implored the farmers to make good use of the irrigation facility, as well as the infrastructure being put in under the Agro Parks programme. “You are well poised to make a significant contribution to your welfare, to the nation’s food security, to rural development and prosperity of Jamaica,” the prime minister said.

The irrigation project involves the supply and installation of distribution pipes for the eastern section of the main command area to include Phillipsfield; the supply and installation of pumps, manifolds and pump houses for Norris and Heartease wells; the installation of the irrigation system east of Yallahs River and; the drilling and development of the Phillipsfield replacement well.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke said the provision of the irrigation system and the launch of the Yallahs Agro Park, mark another step in the journey to advance agriculture in Jamaica so that the sector can realize its full potential and increase its contribution to the economy.

He expressed appreciation to the IDB for the funding and support provided for the project, which is a component of the National Irrigation Development Programme (NIDP).

“This system will no doubt add value to, and improve the lives of the beneficiaries. I am also sure that, by extension, it will bring improvements to the communities in and around Yallahs and will touch the lives of many, particularly the farmers and farm families, who reside and work in this area,” said Clarke.

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