While rice farmers at First Savannah, Mahaicony Creek are blaming the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary/ Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) for their rice crops being ruined by flood waters, General Manager of the entity, Aubrey Charles is claiming that their reluctance to pay ‘farmers fees’ has adversely affected the Authority’s ability to properly execute drainage in areas along the Mahaicony façade.
In a statement yesterday, Charles informed that to date over $1B is owed to the entity in back charges by farmers, which adversely affects its ability to carry out timely drainage works in flood-threatened areas.
He further stated that farmers from First Savannah, in particular, had bluntly refused to pay their fees.
“Farmers have not been paying MMA, they have not. Now, there was a period of time when we were doing all of these works and we were not receiving any money, but the Ministry of Finance has made it clear to us, that we have to collect the money owed from the farmers to carry out the necessary maintenance work.”
He said the MMA/ADA has been sending out notices to the farmers all along the Mahaicony River. However, some farmers in the First Savannah area have refused to pay what they owe.
“If we are supposed to collect $100M, to cover the cost of maintenance, and we only collect $60M, it means we can only do 60% of the works, it’s simple, we can only do 60%, the 40% has to come from the farmers who are not paying,” Charles stated.
In response to this, however, farmers yesterday said they were told by MMA/ADA officials that only when projects are completed, and their areas become developed, they would be required to pay the aforementioned fees. They said that no development works were done in their areas, until yesterday, after this publication carried an article where farmers claimed $7M in losses of their rice crop due to flood waters.
Charles yesterday refuted these claims, stating that he had employees in the area who had not reported any cases of losses at that location.
Farmers were irate over that statement, saying that such claims were untrue. They explained that they were presently trying to save rice crops by attempting to pump excess water from their fields. The farmers also maintained their story that a protective dam which would have prevented flooding was left unfinished for years, thus opening their rice-producing location to flooding during heavy rainfall.
Meanwhile Drainage and Irrigation, Manager of the MMA/ADA, Mahendranauth Ramjit explained that the authority has been trying its best to meet with the farmers. He said that the entity had even proposed a payment plan option, which the farmers have also refused. He said that for the past two weeks, unusual and high rainfall has been pounding the area, and they have dispatched an excavator from NDIA that has been assisting individual farmers in improving the low spots on the land and clearing the drains so they can have faster drainage.
The First Savannah farmers noted that yesterday was the first time an excavator was sent to their location. They said they also received a surprise visit by the Drainage and Irrigation Manager and General Manager of MMA/ADA. Farmers said they were hoping for the best, since it will take three to four days to clear all excess water from flooded rice fields for any hope of saving their rice crop.
Meanwhile MMA/ADA sources have informed that in addition, the Pine Ground Pump Station has been working around the clock for the past two weeks to assist with faster drainage along the façade. They said that the engineering team had identified some threats to overtopping along some points of the canal, and the aim is to reinforce these weak points as fast as they can.
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