Major infrastructural works ongoing in Baracara

– soil testing, breeding stock for farmers as gov’t works to develop agriculture along Canje Creek

Farmers from Baracara and other communities along the Canje Creek in Region Six (East Berbice – Corentyne) have voiced their satisfaction with the swift action taken by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to develop the agriculture sector within the various farming communities.

Following a visit by His Excellency, President Dr. Irfaan Ali late last year, several major infrastructural works have commenced aimed at improving drainage and irrigation systems within the farming communities.

On Friday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha returned to the community to engage farmers and assess the ongoing infrastructural works.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while engaging farmers from Baracara

While lauding the government’s efforts so far, farmers took the opportunity to raise other concerns with the minister.

One farmer noted that, since the last visit by the Head of State and the minister, many persons began to farm on a larger scale but were not getting the desired results from their farms.

“From the last time the president was here and you were here we have seen improvements and we’re happy for that. We already have the canal digging at the back and farmers are on the go. We said we were going to farm and not plant because there is a difference. Since you left, we started out on a large scale but the rain continued to fall and the water came in so scores of farmers have suffered. We are therefore asking for assistance with fertilizer to improve our cultivation. Another thing we need is soil tests. We tried the 6:25:25 and the 15:15:15. Something is wrong because we are not getting the results we need so we want the soil tests. We also need assistance with planting materials,” the farmer said.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha while engaging farmers

Another farmer noted that he has many heads of sheep but needed assistance with increasing his flock.

“I rear sheep and there are other farmers here who also rear small animals. So, we are asking if you can help us with a serving ram because that is very important. There are also farmers with pigs that need breeding boars,” the farmer explained.

Minister Mustapha told the farmers that the government has made millions of dollars available to develop critical infrastructure as well as the providing breeding stock to assist cattle farmers along the Creek.

“The last time we were here, you asked and we delivered. Today we are here once again and we will work to deliver on what you are requesting now. So far, several projects have commenced. Projects that form part of the commitments made by the President when he was here. A contract for the construction of a number of canals to assist farmers with drainage was awarded and works have commenced. Another contract to empolder your cattle savannah was also awarded and those works will commence soon.  We divided the area into two parts; one for part for livestock and the other for cattle. A number of canals will be dug along with a number of empoldering. One contract is for $91 million and the other if for $96million,” he explained.

A section of one of the canals that was dug following requests by the farmers during the President’s visit

Minister Mustapha also noted that, through the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), farmers will soon benefit from breeding stock.

“We also delivered the breeding bulls to assist with genetic materials for cattle farmers. For those rearing sheep and pigs, well make two breeding rams and two breeding boars available to service animals here. We have to craft a livestock plan for this community so GLDA will work with you to craft that plan. We have to see what exists and what is needed to move forward. They will do an analysis and submit a report to say what is needed to develop the livestock sector in the Canje Creek. This will be completed within a month,” he added.

Minister Mustapha while handing over chemicals and fertilizers to farmers from Baracara

As it relates to issues raised about production, Minister Mustapha said that inputs such as fertilizers, planting materials, and services will be made available by the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI). He told farmers about projects ongoing in other parts of the country that focus on the production of specific crops and encouraged farmers to identify specific crops to plant on a large scale.

“I visited countries in the region like Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago that want products from us. Ground provision, citrus, spices, fruits, and vegetable. When I visited Region One, we commenced working with farmers to start large-scale production of ginger so that we can export. I am mentioning this to say, farmers here have to decide on what they want to plant on a large scale so that we can export. So, I will be sending a team from NAREI back here to work with you. They will do the necessary soil tests. I’m advising that you go back to your traditional produce. Things like plantain, corn, and ground provision. If we decide on that, I am committing to providing all of the planting materials free of cost to the farmers,” minister Mustapha said.  

Minister Mustapha handing over planting materials to farmers

The Minister also committed to providing the farming communities with ten bongo pumps and chemicals to assist with managing Acoushi ants along with 500 coconut seedlings, 100 of which were delivered today.

Farmers present also benefitted from planting materials, fertilizer, Acoushi ant bait, and chemicals. An additional 400 coconut seedlings will also be distributed to farmers in the coming week.