One hundred and thirty farmers will be working on the multi-million dollar Lears Land Use Project.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir said that the 77-acre project now has the required infrastructure in place to be functional, noting that previously farmers had issues accessing their land after was heavy rainfall.
“We had to do a lot of infrastructural work for the project,” Weir began. “It involved mobilising material to put in the roads. It took some time to get the infrastructure in. If we are going to engage in open-field agriculture, then we have to deal with the hard core reality. Gone are the days when we could predict rainfall and say certain areas wouldn’t get flooded. We are seeing different weather patterns. So areas which could withstand flooding can no longer do so.”
Weir noted that the ministry went ahead with creating the 21 million-gallon reservoir for the farmers. “There is no way we were going to have that catchment of water without having it properly and that treatment plant also took time to put up,” he said. “There was also a period where we were getting rainfall that is also very unpredictable, impossible at times to do work. You can’t put heavy equipment on soggy land and make it worse.
Among the infrastructural work was the installation of a pumping system – the testing for which was completed last week – and smart metres. The latter, which would allow farmers to pre purchase water for the first time, are set to be introduced now that officials in the sector are aware of the quantity of water required on a daily basis.
Weir believes this system would eliminate farmers running into debt saying, “while we are prepared to help you and invest, the way forward, you must also invest in yourself and treat your farming activity the same way you would treat a business”.
These comments come on the back of Minister of Housing, Land and Maintenance Dwight Sutherland tabling a resolution in Parliament, for the vestment of land in St Michael for community farming. (JC)