$50 million approved to rehabilitate dams in Region Six – Min. Mustapha

-BBP cash crop farmers to receive fertiliser assistance in the new week

Farmers in Region Six can look forward to better access to their farmlands this year with some $50 million being allocated under the Ministry of Agriculture for the rehabilitation of dams in the cultivation areas.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

This was announced by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha during an outreach on Saturday in Crabwood Creek on the Corentyne Coast.

While responding to issues related to access to farmlands, Minister Mustapha said the sum was allocated last Friday following consultations with the National Drainage and Irrigation (NDIA) and the Regional Officials.

Some of the farmers who attended one of the meetings in Black Bush Polder

Farmers present at the meeting also raised issues with drainage, highlighting the need for additional infrastructure given the challenges faced as a result of flooding due to constant rainfall.

Although many farmers indicated that they were well aware of the interventions made by the government to develop the agriculture sector over the past two years, they told the minister that they were still having challenges.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while engaging a group of farmers from Black Bush Polder

Minister Mustapha told the farmers that the government has and will continue to support the farmers as agriculture remains one of the most important sectors in Guyana. He maintained that farmers have never received the amount of assistance that they are currently receiving under this government.

He further stated that work is being done to improve the drainage infrastructure in Crabwood Creek and that farmers will soon benefit from improved drainage with the installation of a new pump which is expected to be operable before the end of the first quarter of 2023.

A farmer from Crabwood Creek while raising an issue

“We can’t build a new sluice now. What I can commit to is ensuring Crabwood Creek gets a new pump. This will happen within a month. It will be a 100-cusec pump and will be here permanently so that the farmers can benefit. Engineers from the NDIA will come back to the area to do an assessment and we’ll make machines available to desilt all of the canals,” he noted. 

Minister Mustapha also disclosed that an agro-processing facility will also be constructed in Crabwood Creek to the tune of approximately $25 million so that farmers can add value to their produce.

Minister Mustapha also met with farmers from Black Bush Polder and informed them that they too will benefit from improved drainage and irrigation. Farmers noted that with Black Bush Polder being the largest agriculture scheme in the Region, they need to receive optimal drainage. They also sought an update from the minister on the fertiliser for cash crop farmers that was announced by the government sometime last year.

While responding to the farmers’ concerns, Minister Mustapha said the NDIA will be constructing two pump stations in the scheme this year.

“We started it last year; to build two pump stations in Black Bush Polder so you’ll have drainage and irrigation. We are also looking to construct the Hope-like canal so that Joanna and other areas can get drainage there. We will also do work in the Cookrite Savannah so that farmers can have access to their animals,” he said.

He also disclosed that cash crop farmers from Black Bush will begin receiving the promised fertiliser in the coming week.

“When we saw that the price of fertilizer was going up and farmers were hard-pressed, the government made $1 billion available to purchase fertilizer to give to the farmers. $900 million for the rice farmers and $100 million for the cash crop farmers. I want to announce that (cash crop) farmers from Black Bush Polder will begin receiving their fertilizer from Wednesday,” he noted.

Cash crop farmers present also raised concerns about the presence of chemicals in the irrigation canals. They explained that persons who are contracted to carry out routine maintenance of the irrigation canals are using chemicals to kill the vegetation and it was affecting their crops.

While noting that the contract clearly states that the use of chemicals is prohibited for the maintenance of the canals, Minister Mustapha told the farmers that closer monitoring of those works will be done by the regional officials and the Water Users’ Association. He also said that a team from the Pesticides and toxic Chemicals Control Board will be visiting the region to conduct tests on the irrigation canals.