Priority One: [JBI & JSIF collaborate on major water harvesting project]
Ask any farmer, particularly those in areas with spotty rainfall and no major facility for storage – and their number one priority would be water.
Therefore, JBI’s Executive Director, Parris Lyew-Ayee describes the institute’s collaborative effort with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in 2014 to set up Water Catchment and Greenhouse Cluster Projects in the parishes as a strategic success.
Piloted in 2009 at Burnt ground, the more recent project started in early 2014 (Tobolski, Nine Miles and Watt Town in St. Ann) with the JBI/BCDP facilitating funding and technical support, mined-out bauxite pits became ponds for reliable water catchment and storage. In turn, these ponds feed irrigation flows into both greenhouse and open field farming operations.
This initiative solved not only the issue of meagre irrigation water resources, but the lack of access to arable farm lands. From this pilot, the engagement now employs 160 farmers in 8 clusters. As the activity produced fruitful results in the farm economy, the value multiplied into other (non-agricultural) components of the rural economy. With 20 greenhouses in each cluster, and one pond constructed to global standards, many farmers are reporting significantly improved yields with vocally backed demands for additional units to come on stream.
The J$160 million allocated through JSIF from the World-Bank sponsored Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), has been supplemented with a J$85 million allocation from the BCDP to develop the ponds and accompanying irrigation systems. In all, 160 farmers in eight communities (St. Ann and Manchester) are benefitting directly from this investment. The REDI allocation covered material, training, storage, post harvesting and sanitary conveniences to support the greenhouse clusters.
As partners in chief, the bauxite companies, committed resources to assist with site preparation for the development of the ponds and the leasing of lands to farmer groups. With this main bug bear out of the way, the once marginalized, small scale subsistence farmers now literally and figuratively have a new lease on life after bauxite.
They can now focus more fully on the assimilation of knowledge and new skills to further enhance their productivity, and position themselves to take advantage of local and international markets including the vibrant tourism sector, which has historically been plagued by weak linkages to reliable production lines of local fresh produce.
This project follows on success of the expanded water catchment and greenhouse technology incubator project in Burnt Ground which was established because of the successful 2009 partnership between the then St. Ann Jamaica Bauxite Partners (SAJBP), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Citizens Development Corps (CDC) and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI).
Greenhouse Cluster at Nine Mile St. Ann July 2016
Arial presentation of a cluster
Successful Greenhouse production