The importance of water management systems in agricultural development was highlighted by Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder as he commissioned the $183M pump station at Eversham, Region Six on Wednesday.
He said this is especially important in light of Guyana being vulnerable to climate change, and where agriculture is done in a significant way, on land below sea level.
The incidence of flooding in the area is expected to be significantly reduced with the operation of the new pump station which has the capacity to drain 25,000 acres of farmlands, predominantly rice. It will also provide improved drainage and irrigation to more than 3,000 people and approximately 750 farmers in the Black Bush Polder area.
Minister Holder said that “Climate change has made water security an even more major issue, not only because of short- term drought-like situations like the present El Niño conditions, but from equally frequent flood risks from La Niña conditions.”
In this regard, he pointed to the fact that river drainage in Guyana is relatively sluggish since Guyana is below sea level, and in many instances, drainage is impeded by intense and rapid sedimentation of river mouths and ocean outfalls.
He explained that this is why there is a need for “artificial or improved drainage” so that crops on these lands can be produced, and “Thus pump stations such as this one (Eversham) is needed to increase production in agriculture.”
The Minister elaborated on the reality that “Mibicuri and the immediate front lands are known for their agricultural potential, with crops such as rice, cash crop farming and livestock production-all being extremely sensitive to extreme weather events.”
In this context, he noted that that drainage is seen as a serious challenge in the Black Bush frontland area, and therefore could have only been resolved by the construction of a ‘sluice and pump.’ He further stated that the outfalls at Mibicuri continue to be problematic as siltation is very pronounced.
Minister Holder said that, “I know of the importance of this commissioning ceremony today, to you the people of Mibicuri, Johanna and immediate front lands, and indeed to all residents of Black Bush Polder. He detailed that the plan is to repair and dredge canals and drainage systems, thereby reducing the vulnerability of the agriculture system in times of flooding.
Expanding the agricultural vision, Minister Holder told the attendees that as part of the Agriculture Disaster Plan, Government plans are for “more relief channels, more sluices to release water into the ocean and rivers, installing more pumps to complement the sluices and increasing the holding capacity of water conservancies.” He emphasised that collaboration will be sought with the Water Users Association, “to improve cost effectiveness of water management and extend and rehabilitate the network capacity of D&I in Guyana.”
The Eversham pump was sourced through the Indian Line of Credit, and has the capacity to extrude 600 cubic feet of water per second, that is, 300,000 gallons per minute. The project also included the construction of concrete inlet channels, timber revetments, a metal pump house, a 2,000-litre fuel tank, and an operator’s house.