Recently installed drainage pumps from India to be fully operable by first week of next month

– 2 additional engineers from India arrive in Guyana

– Agri. Minister discusses plans for Aurora Agriculture Development Project, MMA Phase 2, Cookrit Savannah with Indian High Commissioner

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha earlier today met with Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. K. J. Srinivasa to discuss the status on the drainage pumps being installed in several flood prone areas along the Coast.

The mobile and fixed heavy- duty drainage pumps, which were procured under a Line of Credit financing of US$4 million from India in 2020, are currently in the final stages of installation.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha and Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. K. J. Srinivasa during the meeting

Minister Mustapha informed the delegation that he recently met with the contractor from India and was given an update on the installation of the pumps.

“I met with the contractor about a week ago. There were some issues that were brought to my attention. I raised them with him and he assured me that by the first week in February we can have all these pumps fixed and working. When that happens, we will be able to move ahead with commissioning the pumps,” Minister Mustapha said.

Counsellor, at the Indian High Commission, Mr. Vijayakumar Kizhapate, while providing an update on the installation of the pumps, said that additional engineers had arrived from India to ensure the pumps were fully operational within the given time frame.

“We have installed three mobile pumps at Ruimveldt, Sussex Street and Cowan Street. The other fixed pumps; two pumps were installed at Devonshire Castle and Hampton Court, one at Hope, and one at Nootenzuil. There were some minor issues. Last Saturday we brought two more engineers from India and they are taking care of those issues. Yesterday they said things are coming along alright and that by this week all those minor issues should be resolved,” Mr. Kizhapate said.

Minister Mustapha also said that, with Government working on developing a comprehensive plan for a complete upgrading to the country’s drainage system, this year’s budget should see allocations being made to acquire additional drainage pumps.

“I’m optimistic that, with the new budget, more funds will be made available to acquire additional pumps because, around the country, there is a need for more pumps. Quite frankly, if we are to properly upgrade the country’s drainage capacity, we have to make these types of investments now,” Minister Mustapha said.

Opening new lands

Minister Mustapha also informed the delegation that his Ministry is working towards increasing and improving Guyana’s agricultural production over the next few years. This, he said, will be done through the development of new areas earmarked for agriculture.

“There are a lot of areas that will be developed for agricultural purposes and we need to have proper infrastructure in place. For example, I plan to start work on developing the second phase of the MMA Scheme. If that happens, over 100,000 acres of land will come under cultivation. So we’ll need proper drainage, proper irrigation and additional pumps to boost the system. In Essequibo there is a project that was supposed to start a long time ago called the Aurora Agriculture Development Project. I’m looking to start some work there so that we can make lands available to persons interested in farming. During my first outreach to Essequibo when I became Minister, persons were asking about Government’s plans for the Project and I assured them that it is something we were actively pursuing. In Berbice, the Canje area and the Cookrit Savannah; we’ll need a lot of work to be done in those areas. I also want to start zoning these areas. Instead of having cattle and rice together, which usually results in conflicts with the farmers, I want to zone them to ensure cattle rearing has its designated area and rice cultivation has its designated area,” Minister Mustapha said.

The subject Minister further stated that, in addition to the installation of additional drainage pumps, the infrastructural works needed for the development of these areas will include the establishment of canals and sluices, where necessary.

“In cases where it is possible for us to do the outfall close to the Atlantic Ocean we’ll do so because then the siltation will be minimal, but if it’s a far distance we’ll have to depend on the pumps,” Minister Mustapha explained.

Minister Mustapha, along with H.E. Srinivasa, will be conducting another assessment tour to the newly installed and existing drainage pumps in Georgetown within the coming days.