Banana farmers at Newcastle, St. John, can now smile all the way to the market.
That’s because a brand new irrigation system to boost production in their fields was today unveiled by Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick.
Speaking at the official opening, Irrigation Engineer at the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, Edmund Brathwaite, said the project was started 20 years ago, but was re-energised when the farmers got better organised, formed the Scotland District Farmers Association and approached the agriculture minister two years ago with the project.
Brathwaite further stated that in January 2012 Estwick led a delegation on a tour of the area and Codrington College and instructed them to have the project completed as soon as possible. He pointed out that the catchment provides about 292 cubic metres of water or 64,000 gallons, with a flow rate from the stream of approximately 50 gallons a minute.
Brathwaite argued that if each farmer used six cubic metres per acre per day, it was envisioned that the water in the reservoir would more than satisfy the needs of the 15 acres of land earmarked.
He pointed out that replenishment of the emptied collection facility, according to the flow rate, could take a little under 24 hours.
In his presentation, Estwick said the project could not have been undertaken without the gracious consideration of land owners, Jannis Greenidge, Brian Gibson and Trevor Mayers Jr.
He pointed out that the Newcastle Water Harvesting Project was completed under the Agricultural Development Fund, adding that the project would have been one of a number providing irrigation to various districts.
The St. Philip West MP said the project would provide irrigation water for about 150 acres of land divided into eastern and western components. Estwick said his ministry was pleased that it could bring some relief to the western side and he gave the assurance that his ministry would continue working the same level of support to the eastern side very soon.
“We recognise we have similar topography, and as a result of that we may very well be having water flowing in the eastern areas while people are starving for water to irrigate their various products,” the minister said. (NC) †††