Jan 24, 2016 News
The harsh weather condition, which is by no means unique to Guyana, has significantly impacted the agriculture regions of the country – Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six. In the wake of the El Nino phenomenon, which is characterized
by prolonged dry weather, the Ministry of Agriculture has taken steps to bring relief to rice farmers in Region Five, and The Mahaicony Mahaica Abary Agriculture Development Authority, MMA/ADA.
The latter is a massive drainage and irrigation scheme that has a critical role to play in bringing relief to farmers and averting a crisis in the rice industry.
According to General Manager of the MMA/ADA, Aubrey Charles, the MMA/ADA is overseeing some broad agricultural areas – Berbice-Abary, Abary -Mahaicony, and Mahaicony-Mahaica. He is asking farmers in the project areas to use the irrigation water in a responsible manner, taking into consideration other farmers who may be at a different stage of cultivation at this time.
The authority is closely monitoring the situation, he said. He is asking farmers to cooperate with the authority, as well as to promptly report any situation which may need to be addressed by the MMA/ADA.
Mr. Charles has stated that there is enough water in the Abary-Berbice Block to service farmers in the area for the 2016 spring crop. But pumps have had to be deployed in the other blocks to ensure lands are adequately serviced. The authority is currently pumping water from the MMA main canal in the vicinity of the Blairmont Water Path, to service the Blairmont Sugar Estate so that there would be adequate water when the factory goes into operation early February.
Two pumps are in operation moving water ‘around the clock’ from the Mahaicony River into the Abary- Mahaicony Block in an effort to bring relief to farmers. One pump is situated at Mora Point, and the other is at Pine Ground. Efforts are also underway to channel water from the Mahaicony River to MARDS, Burma.
The Manager noted that there have been some challenges. None the less, the MMA/ADA has been doing the best it can to avert a crisis. Teams have been deployed to engage farmers so that they may use their discretion and consider the other farmers.
They must also be vigilant and report any situation which may need to be addressed
by the Authority. There have been reports of people tampering with structures to allow salt water into the system. This which can be catastrophic for farmers as rice does not tolerate salt water.
Mr. Charles, the General Manager is therefore appealing to those who may be so inclined to desist from tampering with drainage and irrigation structures.
As for the Mahaicony – Mahaica Block, water is also pumped from the Mahaica River into the irrigation system. That effort was boosted last Wednesday by the installation of a pump from the National Drainage and Irrigation Board. The pump was set up at Big Biabu, and works were carried out with assistance from some farmers, to allow proper flow of water to the pump. A five mile channel was also constructed to link with the Perth Biabu canals so as to benefit farmers.
There are teams in the field conducting tests so as to ensure that salt water does not get into the fields. Sluices which discharge into the Atlantic Ocean are also being closely monitored so as to curtail seepage of salt water into the irrigation system, and where necessary, the authorities have drained the salt water from the system.
Mr. Charles has noted that priority is to ensure that established crops are properly irrigated. However, those farmers who have been very late with their crops would not be allowed to pump water from the main irrigation whereby they may jeopardise other farmers’ crops.
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