– Minister Mustapha
Almost 60 per cent of the total budget allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture will address the deficiencies in the drainage system and water service to prevent flooding and improve agriculture production.
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, on Thursday, said the government will invest $8.8 billion to expand and strengthen the operations of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary – Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA). This includes plans to improve the farm-to-market transportation infrastructure.
An additional $160 million have been earmarked for materials, mobile pumps, excavators and bulldozers for maintenance works, repairs of access dams, and the rehabilitation of drainage channels.
The government also intends to expand farmlands and improve support and infrastructure in the hinterland via the allotment of $22 million.
“Over 1,200 acres of farmland will in West Watooka, Linden [benefit from] the execution of drainage and irrigation works, which includes agriculture support in the form of agriculture equipment services to communities in Region 8 and 9 communities,” Minister Mustapha said.
Another $45 million will also be used to enhance the drainage and irrigation system. This will include the installation of a new pump at Trafalgar, Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) which, Minister Mustapha said, will finally operationalise the four pumps at the station, for which it was designed.
“Designs will be done for pump stations at Andrews -Region Two, Cottage- Region Five, and Black Bush- Region Six with the expectation of commencing construction in 2021. The proposed irrigation pump station for Black Bush is aimed at providing sufficient water to the front lands for rice cultivation,” the Minister said.”
With regard to the design of farm-to-market roads, $42 million will be spent to upgrade the existing mud dam access at 52-58 in East Berbice -Corentyne (Region Six), right bank Mahaicony and left Bank Mahaica, and Salem in Essequibo Islands -West Demerara (Region Three).
The Salem road will open access to 15,000 acres of farmland. Of this sum, $25 million will be spent for the continued extension of the Onverwagt access road and $5 million for the continuation of the Ebini farm-to-market road.
Additionally, $11 million will be spent to enhance Georgetown’s drainage system.
Concrete drains will be constructed along North Road to reduce flooding in the Bourda Market area and the main drainage sluice in South Ruimveldt is to be rehabilitated.
It was also noted that 12 high-capacity drainage pumps would soon be installed in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.