President Bharrat Jagdeo has conceded that the flooding along the coastland will have a negative impact on the country’s ability to export some commodities, particularly rice and sugar.
The President was, however, hopeful that the country would still be able to fulfill its first quarter commitments to regional and international markets.
The targets will “definitely” have to be adjusted, given the conditions under which farmers will have to produce, he added.
He noted that there was already a steep decline in the exports of sugar in 2009, and more than likely the figures will have to be reviewed again, depending on the weather conditions.
According to the President, he could not say specifically how much revenue will be lost, but that determination is currently under analysis and will be detailed shortly.
Locally, the floods have already started to have an impact on the market, with consumers having to cope with soaring vegetable prices.
The majority of the areas that produce vegetables in Guyana have been inundated with water, and the intense rains are projected into March.
Recently, the Alliance For Change Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, had called on the President to declare the flood-affected areas, particularly the farmlands, disaster areas, whereby the country could appeal for international help, which is the only approach right now that could prevent catastrophic consequences for the economy.
According to Ramjattan, the administration must start to be honest with the populace and acknowledge the gravity of the situation, and not seek to propagandise any further.
He noted that 40 inches of rainfall in December have already started to take their toll on the markets, with crops such as tomatoes skyrocketing again, this time not from the global financial crisis, but from farmers attempting to capitalize on stock in hand.
He noted that through interactions with farmers, the farmers have already posited that the stocks they have will be sold for higher prices, given that the stocks in the fields are damaged and cannot be sold.
This is currently being experienced on the local markets.
Ramjattan noted also that, with the rains projected to fall at the same unprecedented intensity into March of this year, rice and sugar will be significantly affected.
As it is, several rice fields that should have been reaped early this year are in jeopardy, while some others that should have already been reaped during the November/December period, and have not been, have forced farmers to push back preparations of their fields.
The same situation exists with the sugar industry, as cane would have been cut late last year and have recommenced growth, but with the heavy accumulations of water on the land, the sucrose content in the sugar canes will dwindle, hence exrensively reducing sugar supply from those canes.
The AFC Chairman noted that the Government will try to explain that the water which has accumulated on the land is not as high as in 2005/2006, but the danger lies in the fact that the water will remain in the farmlands until after March, and this will have a devastating impact on the economy.
“The Government was only trying to hide the reality of the situation, just like when it told a rotten lie that the country was insulated from the impact of the Financial Crisis.”
In January 2006, torrential rains caused serious flooding along the Coastal Plain, which is the most densely populated area of Guyana. As a result, the Government declared Regions Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara), Four (Demerara/Mahaica), and Five (Mahaica/Berbice) disaster areas.
The Coastal stretch between the capital, Georgetown, and Mahaica, on the eastern bank of the Demerara River, was particularly hard hit. The flooding affected approximately 290,000 people (39% of Guyana’s population); over half of them were women, and almost one-third were children under nine years. It was the largest disaster to hit Guyana in the last century.
Overnight, thousands were forced to flee their homes in the capital and coastal villages, and close to 5,000 people have had to stay in temporary shelters.
Meanwhile, a large proportion of the affected families became trapped in their homes, depending on daily delivery of food and water, and being highly exposed to disease and environmental health problems.
Three weeks after the peak of the emergency, an estimated 92,000 people still had water in their homes.
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