The Mahaica Mahaicony Abary-Agriculture Development Authority (MMA-ADA) on Friday commissioned two long-reach excavators and one heavy-duty high-powered tractor totaling some $91 million.
The pieces of equipment were procured as part of the authority’s 2022 capital expenditure and will be added to the fleet of machinery used to conduct the scheme’s agricultural activities.
Speaking at the commissioning, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha said that the investments being made to purchase the machinery are part of the government’s overall goal of developing the sector and ensuring food security.
“The government is very committed to investing in the agriculture sector and we are now beginning to see a lot of attention being given to the sector in terms of investments. This is a result of the government’s commitment to increasing production because this sector has to give us food security and continue to bring wealth to the country. This scheme has the potential to increase production, not only in rice and other crops but in livestock as well. When the President commissioned the Black Belly Sheep Project here, he said that he wants to make this region the livestock capital of the Caribbean. I think we can also make it the capital for rice and other crops. This region has the potential to not only feed the country but also this part of the Caribbean and to make a very impactful contribution to agriculture production,” the minister said.
Although the MMA-ADA is the largest agriculture scheme in the country, Minister Mustapha told the gathering that the scheme has the potential to produce more and that the government is working to bring more lands into operation for agricultural purposes.
“For this year, almost 76,000 acres (of rice) were cultivated, and to date, a total of 1,473,131 bags of paddy were harvested in the MMA Scheme alone. That is only 59% of the crop so imagine, when harvesting is completed, we will have close to two million bags. We are looking to increase the acreage in this scheme because I was told that the scheme has the capacity to plant almost 108,000 acres. We’ve been working assiduously to put the necessary systems in place so that this can become a reality. We’ve moved the production of seed paddy in Region Five from 3,000 bags when we took over about 18 months ago to 30,000 bags last year. This year we’ll be expending another $55 million to upgrade and rehabilitate the seed paddy facility and increase production to approximately 60,000 bags,” he added.
Technological Advances in the MMA
In addition to the machinery, Minister Mustapha also disclosed that the government is working to modernise the operations in the scheme.
“We’ve already purchased a drone to do surveying and mapping of areas in the scheme using GIS so that we can identify lands and know what is happening in areas that are not so easily accessible.”
Other Agricultural Activities
Minister Mustapha said in addition to rice production, the government is also addressing livestock and cash crop issues.
“We are also looking to develop cattle pastures. I know you have almost 98,000 acres of land that can be developed into pastures. If we want to develop the livestock industry then we have to ensure we have proper pastures. The scheme also has 3,000 acres of cash crops under cultivation. I am mentioning these amounts of land for you to get an idea, as residents and farmers, of what you have right here,” he noted.
Since taking office in August 2020, the MMA-ADA has already procured six excavators to service the scheme and assist farmers with their agricultural activities. The machines are also used to rehabilitate access dams and clear drainage and irrigation channels.