Essex Valley farmers to benefit from GBP35.5 million grant
Farmers in Essex Valley in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, are to benefit from the development of an irrigation system, which will supply water to approximately 700 hectares of agricultural land in that parish. The project is being funded through a grant of GBP35.5 million (mn) from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), which is administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). “Jamaica' agriculture sector is an important contributor to socioeconomic development, and provides important sources of employment. However, irregular rainfall, prolonged droughts and the possible impacts of climate change all affect agricultural production. This project is intended to reduce the water-related challenges faced by farmers in Essex Valley, and enhance agricultural production and productivity," said Andrew Dupigny, Head of Infrastructure Partnerships at CDB. Agriculture is the most dominant sector in St. Elizabeth, employing 40 percent of the population. The availability of water is considered a major challenge, and the Essex Valley area is characterized by low rainfall with frequent droughts. Some 55 percent of farmers depend exclusively on rain for irrigation, 18 percent use tank water, and an additional 18 percent purchase water from trucks. As such, this project is expected to significantly improve the social and economic prospects of Essex Valley and its environs. In addition to improving irrigation systems, the project includes other components to boost agriculture in Essex Valley, including: Enhanced Agricultural Production and Marketing Facilities and Systems (EAPMFS): Training for farmers and other stakeholders in food safety standards and climate smart agriculture practices. Energy Efficiency / Renewable Energy: The design and Construction of a photovoltaic plant to power the irrigation system and related administrative buildings. Technical Assistance: Financing for a climate vulnerability assessment study to enhance the sustainability of the systems developed under the project; the development of guidelines to support the participation of men, women, youth, and persons with disabilities; and an Operational Plan to enhance the viability and sustainability of the facilities and services Land: The allocation and/or purchase of approximately 14 acres of land for a photovoltaic plant, administrative building, and pumps. UKCIF provides grant financing to eight Caribbean countries eligible for Overseas Development Assistance, and UK Overseas Territory, Montserrat. This project is consistent with CDB' strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development, as well as CDB' corporate priority of supporting agriculture and rural development.