Ministry of Agri takes steps to address water situation for farmers

Agriculture Minister Samantha Marshall and officials in the field as the ministry works to create more ponds and dams to improve water access for farmers. (Photo courtesy Ministry of Agriculture)
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By Theresa Goodwin

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Agriculture officials are making a renewed effort to fulfill a long-term need for local farmers which is access to water and an at affordable rate. The ministry is currently working with its technician and others attached to the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) to make this a reality.

Agriculture Minister Samantha Marshall told OBERVER yesterday that with the Covid-19 pandemic and the devastating impact it has had on employment, more and more people are turning to the sector as a means to provide for their families.

This then amplifies the need for water, coupled with the fact that a lot of local farmers have given up on this means of income due their inability to access the much-needed resource.

“Given that this is one of the main concerns for farmers, we decided that we would refocus our energies and look at how we could make water, not just accessible, but provide it at a reasonable rate for farmers,” the minister said.

“As a result, in conjunction with APUA, we will be doing wells. We are also looking at the creation of more ponds and dams to support farmers and to ensure that we have a sustainable amount of water for production.”

So far, the ministry has identified one particular area in Bendals, which the minister said would support a significant amount of people within the farming community.

Minister Marshall said they will be consulting with APUA as the state authority may be required to make some changes within the area as it relates to their pump houses and other things. Two other areas are also under review.

The agriculture industry, like most other sectors, have recorded loses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent heavy rains across the island have also stalled the process to revitalise the sector.

Minister Marshall said that an assessment of the damage caused by the rains is still ongoing.

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