Agriculture Ministry provides immediate relief to flood-affected Corentyne farmers

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In light of the massive flooding due to heavy rainfall along the Corentyne on Saturday, newly-appointed Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, Local Government Minister Nigel Dharmall and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority Frederick Flatts visited the affected areas on Sunday.

Mustapha, after getting a firsthand look at the effects of the flood, related that three machines were mobilised to commence work. A fourth machine is expected to be added on Monday.

“We are trying to alleviate the problem in the area; this is the largest NDC in the country and it seems to me that there are many canals that need to be cleared. Residents have complained that the RDC, NDC and the NDIA have not been clearing these canals over the years. What I understood from the NDC is that they have been requesting small machines but they have not been getting the machines coming to the area,” the Minister added.

He also stated that he has asked the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), the Water Users’ Association (WUA) and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to establish a committee to monitor sluice operators and also the persons operating the machines to ensure efficiency.

Further, he added that from all indications, there has been a breakdown in communication among the various entities, hence the situation.

“This is the way we will go about doing our business. We will not only sit in the office and send out instructions. As a matter of fact, I plan to visit all of the areas that are affected. Very shortly I plan to visit the Essequibo because I understand that there is an infestation of paddy bugs in the rice industry,” the Agriculture Minister told reporters.

In addition, the Minister has also requested a report from the Guyana Rice Development Board on the situation. The report was expected on Sunday afternoon.

It was reported that due to overnight rain between Thursday and Friday, several Corentyne, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) villages were inundated. The hardest-hit villages are those between Numbers 54 and 57.

At Number 54 Village, residents said this is not the first time they had such an experience.
Villagers have since accused the 52/74 NDC of not clearing the blocked drains and canals in the area.
One villager of Number 57 Village has lost over 2100 meat birds due to the flooding. The pens which are situated on Lots 164 and 165 were all covered by several inches of water, with dead birds lying throughout the pens.

In light of this, the Minister will try to assist while noting that there were other small farmers who were also affected.