The Government through the Ministry of Agriculture has planned a number of interventions to address the effects of the continuing adverse weather conditions facing the country.
Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, recently briefed cabinet on how the El Niño weather pattern in affecting the agriculture sector and measures that were being implemented to provide relief to the citizens. The Agriculture Minister also provided a proposed budget for short, medium and long term efforts.
Addressing the media at a post cabinet press briefing today, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman explained that cabinet has agreed to consider all the measures in the proposal for special emergency funding for the 2016 El Niño intervention.
“This will see intervention efforts in Region Two, taking the form of works being done in the region by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA.) There will also be the provision of potable water to residents of the Pomeroon River,” Trotman outlined.
According to the Minister, there has been a notable infusion of salt water, as high up as 60 miles, into the Pomeroon River.
The Natural Resources Minister told reporters that in Region Three, 10,000 rods of irrigation canals will be cleared, damaged structures repaired and water will be pumped into irrigation canals from the conservancy.
In Region Four, there is on-going assessment of the extent and cost of relief efforts to residents and to the rice and cash crop farmers, who will need water for the cultivation of the next crop.
The Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) has catered for the most critical needs in Region Five, with the primary concern being to provide water to the Blairmont Estate for the rest of the first crop of 2016, Minister Trotman said.
He said too, that potable water is also being supplied to two areas in Region Six by the Guyana Water Inc. These are Sister Village to Mara, East Bank Berbice and the new forest area in East Canjie. He explained that these are areas which depend heavily on River water, which has now become salted.
Water will be supplied to the areas two times per week by GWI, the minister said; adding that, the supply of water is expected to increase to four times per week should the situation get any worse.
In terms of irrigation waters, Minister Trotman explained that all the irrigation pumps are working. He said of the 54,000 acres of rice under cultivation in the region, only about 5,000 would be lost. The affected areas include Number 19 Village and Crabwood Creek.
Trotman said that in Region Seven, the emphasis will be on cleaning creeks and drilling eight shallow wells. Three wells will be drilled at Batavia, two wells at Dag Point and three wells at Karrau Village. An additional well would be drilled at Kartabo with funding provided from the Basic Needs Trust Fund. Creeks will also be clear at Dag Point and Karrau.
While a budget for relief efforts in Region Eight has been proposed, discussions are on-going about the technical requirements needed to implement the measures proposed.
In Region Nine, five villages have been identified for as in critical need of water. These are, Annai, Sulinaab, Awarewaunau, Taushida and Kumu. Other areas classified as in need of immediate interventions in the region include Rupertee, Toka, Aranaputee, Potarinau, Sand Creek, Aishalton, and Tiger Pond.
According to Minister Trotman, the water situation in Region Ten has not been affected by the prevailing El Nino weather conditions.
He said too that the Minister of Agriculture in his brief to cabinet reported that the situation in the regions was, “better than it was two-weeks ago,” with the exception being the Rupununi.
Holder also reported to cabinet that an analysis of the situation had led to the conclusion that there will be a deficit in rainfall quantity and an increase in atmospheric temperature in the coming month and, that these conditions will place Guyana under drought warning at least up to May 2016.
The quantity of fresh water available for various uses, across sectors is therefore likely to be reduced and the chances of forest related fires will increase, Trotman warned.