Sat | Apr 13, 2024

$4.3 billion approved for Essex Valley irrigation system in St Elizabeth

Published:Monday | December 5, 2022 | 6:52 PM
Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Eastern, Franklin Witter, addressing a recent Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project (EVADP) consultation meeting held at the Comma Pen Church of God in the parish. - Contributed photo.

More than 700 farmers operating on 810 hectares of land in the Essex Valley region of St Elizabeth will soon have improved access to irrigation to boost agricultural production and productivity.

A ceiling budget of $4.3 billion has been approved by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in the 2023/2024 financial year for the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project (EVADP) land irrigation development in Comma Pen in the parish.

The system will deliver 1,700 cubic metres per hour of water.

The farmers will also benefit from associated marketing facilities and farmer advisory services.

EVADP is being funded through a grant of more than £35 million from the United Kingdom (UK) Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund and administered by the Caribbean Development Bank.

The project, which was originally scheduled for completion in June 2023, is now set to conclude in December 2023, following delays caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Franklin Witter, said that the EVADP is being closely monitored.

Witter, who is also Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Eastern, was addressing an EVADP community consultation at the Comma Pen Church of God in the parish recently.

“We had some hitches earlier on between 2020 and 2022, but now we are moving ahead and, therefore, we expect to have a start-up before the end of this year. The people of this community are very happy to see the progress we have made in the last six months or so in making sure that the project becomes a reality. I will be working assiduously to make sure we meet the timeline going forward,” he said.

Witter commended all stakeholders involved in the execution of the EVADP for their commitment to ensuring the project is carried out in a timely manner.

Project Manager of the EVADP, Petronia Colley, informed stakeholders that under the project's component three, which will look specifically at the renewal energy system, Cabinet has approved the award of a contract to a recommended bidder, which should be signed by the first week of January 2024.

The meeting was held to update stakeholders on the progress of the project.

- JIS News

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