Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder charged the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Guyana Livestock and Development Agency (GLDA) and National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), to find adequate solutions for the plight of farmers in the Victoria/Belfield area.
In a visit to the area today, Minister Holder listened to the farmers’ concerns. One such complaint involved the destruction of young rice crops in Belfield by cows and other cattle, which the farmers say are being let loose, at night to graze on the fields, by residents of Victoria.
Jagath Shiwsankar, a rice farmer, told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that he has been farming in the area since he took over from his father in the 1960’s. Shiwsankar explained, whenever the cattle graze in the rice fields it takes a period of approximately 50 days before the crop can be regrown. The farmer said, he and others, have accrued huge losses as a result.
The Belfield farm paddy cultivation occupies more than one thousand acres alongside the forty-five-year-old Bellbaag/Belfield ‘farm to market’ road and is expected to yield roughly thirty bags of paddy per acre.
The farmers also told Minister Holder, the lack of maintenance has caused blockages in some areas, proving detrimental to their rice crops. As such, they are seeking the intervention of the ministry to have the irrigation infrastructure improved. They also requested assistance with crop security for their rice farms and cash crops, as persons are known to ransack their land and deprive them of their livelihood.
Another farmer, Leroy Cato added that due to the floods in the back-dam, many planters abandoned their plots and requested assistance to alleviate the situation. The farmers agreed that it has been several years since any proper investment was made to improve their conditions and were elated that Minister Holder visited the site to listen to their concerns.
The Agriculture Minister called on the Guyana Livestock and Development Agency (GLDA) and National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) to aptly deliver solutions to these farmers. He has also committed himself to working with them to guarantee appropriate assistance.