Jan 25, 2016 News
In what can be considered the latest fallout from the El Nino weather conditions, some farmers in the Mahaica/Mahaicony, Region Four have taken matters into their own hands, diverting crucial irrigation water to their own lands at the expense of other farmers.
Reports are emerging that farmers have used excavators and blocked the main irrigation canals. When asked to move their equipment, it is stated that farmers justified their actions because of potential losses owing to the dry weather.
Commenting on the standoff yesterday, General Manager of the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA), Mr. Aubrey Charles, revealed that the drama has been unfolding since last week Tuesday.
“We are in El Nino and we have two pumps in Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary pumping water from the Mahaica River into the irrigation system,” Charles related. “(However) those closest to the source (river), are pumping water with no regards for the farmers farthest away.”
Emphasizing that they were not given permission to do any of these things, he went on to relate that these farmers have taken their excavators and blocked the main irrigation canals, to confine the water to their farm lands.
Charles related that a team of officials visited the scene of the standoff on Saturday and instructed the farmers to remove the excavators. However, he stated that this order was ignored and farmers moreover threatened to hit the MMA/ADA with a lawsuit should their 2016 crop fail.
While he noted that threats of a lawsuit against MMA/ADA had no merit, Charles decried the fact that some farmers apparently did not care if they monopolized most of the water and other farmers got none.
He revealed that as of yesterday, police ranks, accompanied by media operatives and MMA officials went into the location as part of an exercise.
Meanwhile, providing an update on the MMA/ADA’s efforts to arrest the effects of El Nino, Charles revealed that while some progress has been made, the actions of the Mahaicony/Mahaica farmers have proven to be a setback.
MMA/ADA has operational oversight in the Berbice/Abary, Abary to Mahaicony and the Mahaicony to Mahaica areas. Yesterday, Charles gave assurances that there is enough water in the Abary water conservancy to supply the Berbice/Abary block.
“The rice farmers (in the Berbice-Abary block) are safe (for now). We have water in the Abary conservancy,” Charles said. “The problem is if it gets too low, farmers will have to pump.”
He noted that the conservancy operates by gravitational pull, whereby the doors just have to be open and the water flows. He did note that there are concerns that the water may not be enough to fulfill the needs of both the rice farmers and sugar workers.
In the case of the Abary to Mahaicony block, which depends on the Abary and Mahaicony rivers, farmers have been facing serious challenges in irrigating their fields.
Charles also noted that the Blairmont sugar estate is located in this block and is affected by disruptions in the water supply. Charles stated that the MMA/ADA has deployed a pump and is pumping water from the canal to the estate.
Trouble farmers have with irrigating farmlands also holds true for the Mahaicony-Mahaica Block.
Charles has described the actions as being very disappointing especially given the fact that farmers face so many challenges in the wake of the prolonged dry weather.
Farmers have been forced to use irrigation pumps with very little effect, forcing the intervention of the MMA/ADA and the National Drainage and Irrigation Board.
The MMA as well as the National Drainage and Irrigation Association (NDIA) have been monitoring the situation very closely. It is understood that pumps have been working round the clock as well as workers have been testing the salt content of the water in the irrigation canals.
Farmers have been asked to be vigilant, and to report any suspicious activities to the relevant authorities.
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