Aug 11, 2020 News
Rice farmers in Berbice are now calling for compensation for their rice crops lost due to flooding that began last Friday. Following the heavy downpour of rain last Friday night, many areas in Berbice saw a high rise in water levels. This caused flooding in homes and damage to home gardens and livestock.
Rice farmers in the region have also claimed to have lost hundreds of acres of rice due, the second time this has occurred in as many years. According to one rice farmer, who spoke to Kaieteur News, he had lost over 80 acres of rice due to flooding that occurred last year. He stated that the flooding resulted from improper irrigation systems in the area that were not being addressed by the relevant authorities. The farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that he had then decided to make an official complaint to the then President David Granger and, in his letter, he lamented that his community was being neglected by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).
The farmer showed this newspaper a response that was written to him by Granger in a letter which stated that the President had acknowledged his complaint and he would have forwarded the letter to the then Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder. Granger further stated that Holder would conduct an investigation on the situation and give the farmer a response.
The man says that no response was given to him and the irrigation issue persisted which resulted in the flooding occurring again this year. He also claimed to have made four to five complaints during the course of last year to this year to the NDIA, but responses were never given and the irrigation issue in the backdam areas worsened further.
He added that the farmers themselves made attempts to pump out some of the water, however their attempts were futile. He said that four excavator machines were sent to resolve the issue but upon their arrival, the damage was already done. He claimed that the backdams were muddy and slippery and the machines could not be brought in properly to resolve the issue. The farmer related that since their arrival they have been parked and few further attempts were made to pump the rest of the water out of the drainage system.
The man believes that the lackadaisical attitude of the NDIA and all other relevant authorities is the main reason for the issue, as flooding has and always will occur. He stated that if swift action was taken in resolving the issue it would have saved him and many farmers like himself the trouble of having to finance new crops which would severely impact their way of life.
He also stated that as a consequence of the flooding and negligence of the relevant authorities he and other farmers have no choice but to ask for compensation because financing a new set of crops will be expensive. The farmer indicated that he is ready to sue but is unsure of where to start; however, he said, he will be persistent until the authorities cease their failure to address urgent concerns that can affect people’s livelihoods.
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