- 907 rods of drains cleaned in the last four weeks
On Thursday afternoon, Agriculture Minister Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha returned to Melanie village on the East Coast of Demerara to meet with residents and farmers to discuss additional developmental plans for the community.
Minister Mustapha visited the area exactly one month ago and made several commitments to residents who raised concerns over the lack of proper drainage in the area.
While speaking with those in attendance at today’s meeting, Minister Mustapha disclosed that to date, some 907 rods of drains have been cleaned to ensure residents receive improved drainage in the area.
“The VP came here in September to meet with you. After that, he told me that residents raised issues about drainage. I came here just about a week after that and made some commitments to start doing some drainage work immediately. I walked the area with the engineers and made a decision that we’ll send machines here immediately. To date, 907 rods of drains have been cleared amounting to almost $8 million. This will assist you with drainage with the rainfalls. These drains have to be maintained. For those youths from the community who are not working, we’ll give them small contracts to maintain the internal drains that we dug. The NDIA will contract them through the CDC so they will get a monthly income from those works,” the minister said,
He also told residents that a follow-up assessment of the community’s drainage structure will be done to determine if additional works are needed to address issues with flooding.
Minister Mustapha also told farmers that the ministry through its National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) will make planting materials available for persons who have kitchen gardens. He also said that vulnerable individuals in the area will receive assistance through the Guyana Livestock Development Authority’s (GLDA) ongoing Black Giant Poultry Program.
“Besides that, I made a commitment the last time I was here to some farmers who have kitchen gardens. I told them that I’d give them planting materials free of cost. NAREI will meet with you to find out what type of planting materials you need and we’ll give them to you free of cost. In addition to that, we will look at the most vulnerable households, starting with single mothers, and we’ll give them 20 Black Giant birds each. They will receive these birds within three weeks. The Chairman for the Melanie Community Development Council will work with you to get the names so that we can get those birds to you,” the minister added.
Minister Mustapha took the opportunity to condemn a resident from a neighboring village after he made false allegations of racial discrimination towards farmers from the village. Before the minister responded to the claims, several residents also called out the individual for trying to push a false narrative, siting the completed drainage works that were done following commitments made by the government.
“I don’t know what the comrade is speaking about. When we make commitments, we work to fulfill them. This is not about race and we shouldn’t use race to divide us. My ministry, and the entire government for that matter, does not distribute the country’s resources based on race, we work with a program. We have to look at the reality. Today you had two ministers of government visit your community in less than an hour of each other. That has never happened before. We have a great opportunity in our country because we are seeing persons from different ethnic groups coming together and that is the way to go. We have to look at our future. We cannot allow politics and race to divide us. That has kept us back for decades and we have the chance to change that,” the minister noted.
Minister Mustapha was accompanied by several agency heads and other technical officers from the Ministry of Agriculture.