200 acres rice under threat as water rises in Canje River

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Water overflowing a dam at New Forest

By Andrew Carmichael 

Close to 200 acres of rice in East Canje, Berbice, is under threat as water continues to rise in the Canje River due to the consistent rainfall over the past few days.

Rice farmers who operate along the eight villages spanning from Speculation to DeVester are the ones affected. The area which is commonly referred to as New Forest has an estimated 2200 acres under rice cultivation.

“I can’t get drainage for this rice to grow out. The high tide is flooding me out all the time. I invest money and don’t know if I will get it back,” Kanai, who has been a rice farmer for the past ten years, said.

According to him, despite his loss at the last crop, he did not receive any relief that was offered by the Government since he was told that his name was not on the list.

One of the largest farmers in that community is Gavaskar Sherriff who cultivates 500 acres of rice at New Forest. About 80 acres of mature paddy still remain in the field to be harvested but the floodwaters have taken over the field.

Some farmers have gone back into the next crop but are uncertain that the paddy planted will be able to survive the floodwaters

Ganesh Ramsaroop, who has harvested one set of rice still has 16 acres to reap but it is all underwater. His grain carts are still in the field and a combine got stuck in the mud on Saturday as he desperately tried to harvest rice in several inches of water.

“When the combine trying to cut it, the waves pushing down the rice, so all this under threat,” he told this publication.

According to Ramsaroop, the water started to rise a few days ago and he was only able to harvest a portion before the situation became impossible to continue harvesting.

“This looks hard, I doubt whether we can get this rice anymore,” Ramsaroop added.

Water was on Saturday riding over a closed sluice leading from the Canje River and pouring into his rice field. Residential areas are also being affected. Livestock farmers have released their animals to find higher grounds and to find food.

Sherriff said there is nothing he can do as cows and sheep feast on rice which he might not be able to harvest.

“The farmers have nowhere else to put their cows to graze, I ain’t tell them nothing if they grazing in my rice. Sheriff explained that the sluices from several villages are also letting in water.

“The water coming in and overtopping the dam and flooding the place. For the past five years, the koka door was just like that, nobody fixing them and this is flooding always. Last year we get this kind of flooding.”

“I have pictures with me and the Minister at my place when it was flooded last year,” he said.

Rice ready to be harvested in several inches of water

As it relates to the 80 acres still to be harvested, Sherriff told this publication that he might not be able to harvest it.

“At this stage, it is at the ending stage. I don’t think we can do anything to this right now because the water is right up and there is no way we can get out this water for now because the June month’s raining is coming and I don’t see a way getting this water out because the Canje Creek level raises and to get this water out right now it is very impossible.”

One of the farmers who has been able to reap all of his rice is Roy Kanai. He has already gone back into the crop but his entire 15 acres is now inundated.

Rice needs water in its early stages but as the young plants emerge, they need sunlight and less water.

Another farmer, Aaron Beharry, who has 150 acres under rice cultivation at the New Forest-Speculation area related that the floodwater is affecting his crop. According to him, a sluice at Bachelors Adventure which should assist with drainage remains non-functional.

“We ask for this koka to be fixed for a very long time and they not fixing it. We bring them and show them the koka. The purpose of this koka is to get the heavy rainfall out of the cultivation. All we asking for is for them to make back the koka door and let farmers survive.”

A combine stuck in the mud

When asked whether the field would’ve been able to drain through the sluice had it been operable given the current water level in the Canje River, he noted that there will be some drainage but the process would be very slow.

“When the water is on the last falling before the tide comes up back, we could catch an hour or two drainages, but at least it is something you getting rather than getting nothing. Right now, it is the spring tide so the Creek can’t go down that low but on the neap tide we could get reasonable drainage,” he explained.