Amid reports of gunplay and persons being detained, the situation in the Mahaica/Maichony is engaging the attention of Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder, who has urged that rice farmers be responsible and considerate in how they use irrigation water.
“Water will be scarce,” Holder said during a recent interview. “Farmers must be responsible in how they use water and how they allow other people to get water. We are pumping water into a channel, so we tell people that for the next 48 hours, no one must come since the water has to build up.”
He noted that pumping in Mahaica is designed to ensure that everyone in a 10 mile radius can get access to the water. However, he decried the fact that as fast as authorities have been pumping, farmers have been tapping into the system.
Holder also spoke of the reports that rice farmers have been exchanging threats over access to the water for their crops.
General Manager of the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA), Aubrey Charles, stated that an incident did occur late last week involving farmers, and gunshots were discharged. He could not, however, give specifics.
He did note that farmers have been, for the most part, co-operative and that since police have been involved, unsanctioned pumping of water has been minimized.
He spoke of only one isolated case, which was reported on Saturday, where a farmer deliberately breached the Pert Baibu Embankment and installed a tube to guide water straight to his rice field, where he employed a pump to have it distributed in his field. Charles made it clear that this matter would be dealt with.
Regarding the MMA/ADA Board Meeting, which took place on Thursday, Charles related that a collective decision was taken to allow the water to build up and to monitor what was taking place in the fields, with a view of identifying target areas.
He also stated that the Authority would be continuing its work alongside the police in ensuring compliance.
When contacted yesterday, ‘C’ Division Commander, Assistant Commissioner Marlon Chapman confirmed that there have been reports of individuals in the Mahaica/Mahaicony Block who have been exhibiting threatening behavior in the wake of the water crisis.
He stated that investigations are ongoing and a number of individuals, including farmers and ordinary residents, have been questioned by the police. However, when asked about reports that shots were discharged, Chapman stated that there were no such reports in the system.
Holder had recently given an update on the ongoing national response by Government to tackle the effects of the current El Niño situation.
It was stated that water supply levels are low and many farmers are affected. The weather pattern which has been persistent is anticipated to continue throughout the first quarter of 2016.
“This prolonged dry weather has impacted our water resources and has been most seriously felt in the farming areas along the coast and within our hinterland communities,” Holder had said.
Rice farmers are the ones heavily hit as their production was not only affected by the drought like condition but also by the intrusion of salt water.
General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Nizam Hassan, had disclosed that of the 177,734 acres of paddy that were sown, 39,601 acres have been affected by the El Niño situation, while an additional 27,800 acres have been affected by salt water intrusion.
The Ministries of Public Health and Communities, the Civil Defense Commission and the Guyana Water Incorporated are also actively involved and are looking at alternative ways in which water can be conserved.
Recognizing the imminent threat of El Niño, the Government of Guyana has since established a national task force to deal with irrigation issues across the country.
Oct 16, 2018By Sean Devers in Trinidad In association with Regal, Vnet, Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel In murky conditions and played before virtually empty stands, Guyana Jaguars, led by a 79-run...
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