The Ministry of Agriculture remains steadfast in its commitment to ensure that the livelihoods of farmers are not lost, hence it continues to give assistance to farmers countrywide. Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder accompanied by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Freddy Flatts held a meeting with farmers on Thursday.
During the meeting at Fairfield and No.10 village Biaboo, concerns were raised by farmers with respect to the El Nino situation. They feel that greater collaboration is needed by farmers if government’s interventions are to be a success.
Deonarine Persaud, a rice farmer of Baiboo expressed concern that there is little water left in the irrigation network along the rice producing areas; however, they are thankful that additional pumps have been deployed to assist with the situation.
It was pointed out that most of the irrigation issues arose due to farmers who are situated inland selfishly pumping water to their fields and blocking off access from other farms. As a result the water is not allowed to build up and to be pumped to farmers on the coast.
The farmers however, committed to working with the MMA/ADA to enforce rules against unauthorised pumping which usually occurs at night.
While addressing the farmers, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder announced that additional machinery will be sent in shortly to bring much needed support.
However, he urged residents to remain proactive regarding the management of water in light of El Nino while the Ministry of Agriculture continues to implement measures to ensure proper management and equitable distribution of water across the rice belt.
For the sustainability of irrigation of rice lands, the Agriculture Minister has asked farmers to be more proactive and responsible as it relates to the management of water.
“Interventions have been made to provide assistance in the form of pipes, machinery and rehabilitation of structures to various affected areas, it is necessary that you conserve on water usage and not to tamper with drainage and irrigation structures,” he said.
The aim of the visit was to ensure that all irrigation pump stations were fully utilised and supplying water to farmers in the height of the severe weather condition.
Rice farmers are the ones heavily hit as their production was not only affected by the drought -like condition, but also by the intrusion of salt water.
Statistics from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) (as of Monday) have shown that of the 177,734 acres sown thus far, 39,601 acres have been affected by the El Nino situation while an additional 27,800 acres have been affected by salt water intrusion.
The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) in conjunction with the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Agricultural-Development Authority (MMA-ADA) continue to work round-the-clock to assist farmers with their drainage and irrigation needs.