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Saint Kitts and Nevis

Irrigation and drainage

Evolution of irrigation development

The irrigation potential is estimated at 200 ha considering on water resources and topography, of which 180 ha for Saint Kitts and 20 ha for Nevis (Table 4).

There has been limited experience of irrigation within the sugar industry. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the sugar manufacturing company utilized a rain gun, fed from a shallow well on one estate. In the case of vegetable production, a 3 ha vegetable production demonstration plot utilizing sprinkler irrigation was established on the same estate. The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) also undertook some experimental work. In 1997, the CARDI initiative utilized drip irrigation for a total of seven farmers on the islands.

Generally, in Saint Kitts access to irrigation water is very limited, because vegetable production is carried out on the lower hillslopes. In 1997, some 8 ha were irrigated mainly on government demonstration plots and private farms using the municipal water supply. Also, the construction of tanks (average capacity 341 m3) had been encouraged on some farms to extend the production season as far as possible. Since 1997, the construction of three intakes structures on some of the main rivers (permanent springs) has increase the volume of water available for farming in general. In Nevis, approximately 10 ha were irrigated in 1997, half from surface water and half from groundwater (Figure 3). Schemes were small and were operated by a total of eight households; 4.5 ha were privately-owned schemes, 2 ha were smallholder/government enterprises, and the remaining 3.5 ha were government schemes.

In 2012, approximately 25 ha are irrigated in the country, which accounts for 0.5 percent of the cultivated land. Most irrigated crops are vegetables.

Women and irrigation

The Country Strategy Paper (2013-2015) for St. Kitts and Nevis projects increased output in agriculture on the basis of the provision of irrigation, mechanization of services and increase in facilities for product handling and storage. From a gender perspective the strategy has to go hand in hand with addressing other issues such as increasing land ownership for women, opening opportunities for the increased presence of women in protected agriculture; and addressing work-life balancing issues for women. The paper recommends, amongst others, to produce a road map to develop the agro-processing sector and address constraints such as the lack of water for irrigation and the slowness in technological adaptation, for example in greenhouse agriculture. This is now being addressed with plans to allocate green houses to more women, especially single women (CDB, 2014).


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