Black Bush Polder to receive major drainage and irrigation infrastructure upgrades

The Black Bush Polder area has been identified for significant drainage and irrigation (D&I) infrastructure rehabilitation works in the coming year. This initiative aims to establish an efficient D&I system that will provide substantial relief to rice and cash crop farmers in the region.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, emphasised this during a farmers’ meeting held at the Mibicuri Primary School on Friday. He highlighted the importance of these upgrades in enhancing agricultural productivity and ensuring the sustainability of farming practices in the Black Bush Polder area.

Minister Mustapha interacting with a farmer

During the engagement, farmers requested for a number of drainage canals to be excavated, as the water supply is extremely low on their farmlands.

In response, Minister Mustapha assured that construction will soon begin on the internal irrigation canals to improve access to drainage capacity, with a focus on crucial sections in the farming areas.

The minister also highlighted that the ministry is working on a programme to rehabilitate several drainage structures in the region. 

“Next year we will start the major work on the canal. In Black Bush Polder, we will have one of those [canals] coming out of Johanna… straight onto the Atlantic. We have about 150 sluices, pumps and stations to rehabilitate… The drainage capacity will increase tremendously. So, I’m hoping by August next year, a lot of those things will improve,” Minister Mustapha stated.  

One of the farmers raising a concern

He added that the drainage pump station at Adventure, which is about 96 per cent completed, will be commissioned shortly.

To ensure that mechanisms are in place to provide farmers with reliable irrigation while the drainage system is being improved, Minister Mustapha and a technical team, inspected the farmlands and the entire drainage systems between  Number 52 and Mibicuri villages.

The agriculture minister reminded farmers that water management is crucial now, especially during the dry weather period.

Drainage system at #52 Village

There are approximately 20,000 acres of land in Black Bush Polder, while 28,000 acres of rice lands are located along the front lands.

Farmers were reassured that government will provide assistance and technical support for their crops and livestock to increase food production, along with the support needed to upgrade drainage structures.

“We have two pumps by the Canje Creek pumping [water] at the  Number 52 canal for the farmers… So, you will have six pumps in operation right here… So, the water level will increase tremendously,” Minister Mustapha assured.

Meanwhile, government is forging ahead with its plan to construct a replica of the Hope canal in the region.

Farmers at the meeting at Mibicuri Primary School

He added that, “The Canje Creek is very low presently. That is why the pumping capacity reduced. We have put additional drainage pumps that we had in different parts of the region…We moved some of those pumps to irrigation canals. This is where we are trying to put more freshwater in the system. So, you will have water. So, that is why we are putting all these systems in place.”

A grader will be available in the area within three days. 

Farmers’ groups will also benefit from shade houses and planting materials to ramp up the production of crops.  Additionally, livestock farmers will receive free molasses for their cattle, next week.