West Watooka, a farming community located in Region 10, will soon benefit from a multi-million-dollar water conservancy as part of the Government’s efforts to ensure farmers benefit from irrigation throughout the year.
This was made possible through the intervention of Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha after he held an outreach to several communities in the Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region 10) last month.
Today, the Minister returned to the mining town for the official signing of the contracts for the consultancy, construction of the dams and construction of the irrigation structures.
In his address during the contract signing, Minister Mustapha said with the construction of the conservancy, farmers would soon be able to increase their production.
“When I came here the last time, I mentioned that we were looking to build a conservancy in West Watooka. Today we are here to sign three contracts to the value of $174,695,640. With the construction of this conservancy, farmers will benefit from year-round irrigation for their farms.
“This, coupled with the upgrades to your current drainage system, will help you, the farmers, to improve your production and general farming life. As Minister of Agriculture, I am committed to working with the entire farming community to ensure that this Region is known for more than mining. Region 10 will soon be known for its great agricultural potential,” Minister Mustapha said.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Fredrick Flatts, in his remarks, said people from the community should assist with monitoring the progress and execution of the works.
“I’d like persons from the community to check out what is happening from time to time so that you have an idea of what is happening and, of course, if something is happening that looks wrong, you can also speak with our Regional Engineer. As the direct beneficiaries, we want to make sure you are comfortable with the project throughout the entire project cycle,” Mr. Flatts said.
E&A Consultants would be overlooking the execution of the project, while Kascon Engineering Services and M&P Investment would be responsible for the construction of dams and irrigation structures respectively.
Minister Mustapha also said the Ministry is working on developing a work programme detailing all the works needed in the Region.
“I also said that we would execute some works so that we can enhance the drainage structure. I’m happy to report that from the time of my first visit as Agriculture Minister to now, the machine was here from the very next day and has been in the area working continuously. To date, the machine would’ve completed approximately 4000 rods of canal.
“Our engineers will also be meeting with residents and farmers soon so that they can see what works are needed. They will develop a work plan and submit that report to me so that we can have funds available to execute the works,” Minister Mustapha said.
Meanwhile, Director General at Ministry, Mr. Madanlall Ramraj said the project was another investment by the Ministry to ensure farmers and the farming community are better off. Construction of the conservancy, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, is expected to be completed in 12 months.