El Niño losses revised significantly downward
An estimated 8,000 acres of rice has been lost, 150 head of cattle dead and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will now only be able to plant about 85% of the targeted lands for this coming crop.
Additionally, an estimated $642M in interventions and recovery efforts would have been allocated to fight the effects of the El Niño conditions.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, along with members of special task force established to counter the ravages of El Niño, also disclosed that original estimates that $3B in agricultural losses that were likely have been significantly revised downward.
Yesterday, hydromet officials also disclosed that a normal rainy season is likely, although it is too early to say whether extreme La Niña conditions will become a reality.
Several veterinarians, drainage and irrigation officials and several excavators and pumps had to be redeployed in the El Niño fight. To compound matters, there were diseases outbreaks for crops like the prevalence of the Black Sigatoka, acoushi ants, caterpillar and more recently, paddy bugs to deal with.
A multi-faceted approach included farmers’ support, water management and dealing with issues of food security had to be tackled.
Several organizations including the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, MMA-ADA, the National Dairy Development Programme and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority had to chip in and lend resources in a situation that was both a learning experience and a challenge in many ways, Minister Persaud said.
There were several teams being dispatched to all regions including heavily affected areas in the hinterland.
Since January over 300 meetings were held across the country with affected villages and farmers, the official said.
Currently, government has moved beyond the response phase to recovery efforts to ensure that losses are minimal.
Meanwhile, with regards to rice, the fallout has been minimal with the national targets likely to surpass that of last year’s record breaking figures.
In the area of sugar, although additional lands have been added to the projections of cane to be planted, and only 85% of these likely to be planted, there will likely to be no major fallout as well, Persaud assured.
The problems at GuySuCo were compounded by inadequate water supply and low canal levels which affected the transportation of punts.
All GuySuCo sectors are now in recovery mode and there is an all-out attempt to have every single department up their game to meet targets.
Yesterday, the Minister also disclosed that there will be no cash payments for farmers who lost crops, but there are fertilizers, paddies and other agro-chemicals. Cash payments, he said, were found to be ineffective in the past to farmers.
Farmers, especially in the Leguan and Wakenaam islands, Essequibo, who were heavily affected, will be getting help.
It was estimated yesterday that at the most, 1,500 farmers, in the different sectors, including livestock and rice, would have been affected in varying degrees.