Tampering affecting interventions
As farmers continue to face the harsh effects of dry conditions brought on by the El Nino situation, several of them residing at Den Amstel, West Coast Demerara, met with government officials Saturday.
A large quantity of drainage pipes was also distributed as part of the interventions to ease the plight of farmers. Among the group were rice, cash crops and livestock farmers.
A release from government said that Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud and a team of officials from his Ministry, assured the farmers of government’s commitment to ensure that farmers’ needs are addressed.
At the meeting which was convened at the Den Amstel cattle farmers’ building, Region Three, Persaud said that one of the main situations facing farmers is insufficient water as a result of the low levels in conservancies and main canals.
“We all know that the irrigation season coincides with rainfall. And even if we have our conservancy at a full level it is constantly replenished by the on-going rainfall. So we started out the irrigation season with our conservancies and water ways at the maximum level.”
The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) had previously taken a decision not to follow the standard operating procedure of dipping the levels of the conservancy when the rainy season approaches.
“At first, farmers were co-operating but when the situation intensified in some regards, there were some levels of anxiety where persons were cutting and removing structures and pumping from the main canals. There were also lack of co-operation and recognition when it came to sharing resources,” Minister Persaud said.
The NDIA and the Water Users Association, according to the Agriculture Minister, have been working closely with rice farmers and farmers’ groups to create a more localised monitoring committee to facilitate a functional system. Farmers also benefited from field pipes to facilitate D&I needs.
Persaud disclosed that additional interventions were also undertaken to the tune of approximately $200M. These entailed the deploying of mobile pumps on all sea shores; two pumps to pump water into the conservancy at Boerasirie Creek, while six pumps facilitate the pumping of water into the East Demerara Water Conservancy, Dawa and the Mibicuri and Corentyne areas.
Region Three Chairman, Julius Faerber, while highlighting pressing challenges that the El Nino condition poses, noted that the conservancies at present are very low and as such, water to farmlands is not being channeled at the required speed.
For farmers to have a natural flow of water to supply farming activities, water pumps will have to be used, coupled with persistent works.
He was, however, disappointed over the issue of farmers who at times vandalise structures and cautioned that anyone found doing so will be dealt with severely.
“If we allow the system to work, then I’m quite certain that all of the farmers would be able to benefit from that exercise. But if we tamper with the structures, you would find farmers who have pumps benefiting, while the smaller farmers would not benefit. So I’m appealing to you the farmers to ensure that the systems work, let us manage the systems together so that we can have a smooth flow of water reaching to each rice farmer’s plot,” the Chairman said.
Some of the critical areas in the region affected are Vreed-en-Hoop, and Pouderoyen. “The reason is that the water at this end gets into your system first before it gets to the other end, so we find that end is far more critical than this area here…however, we are working to ensure that the entire region gets whatever water is in the system no matter how small it is. This is to ensure that each farmer benefits.”
The Agriculture Sector Development Unit’s Senior Engineer, Frederick Flatts, said that major Drainage and Irrigation works have commenced in the Vergenoegen, Bonasika and Den Amstel areas which will be followed by works at Vreed-en-Hoop, La Jalousie, Canals Polder, Golden Grove, Victoria and Crabwood Creek.
The works will be executed under the Agricultural Sector Development Unit and are funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Government of Guyana.
Earth works have also commenced in the three areas to the tune of $1.1B. These are being executed by the NDIA.
Flatts further added that to date, works to the Vergenoegen, Bonasika and Den Amstel areas are 63 percent completed and are expected to be fully completed by year end.