Farmers in Canal Number Two Polder, West Bank Demerara (WBD) who suffered losses at the hands of heavy rains last week are urging the authorities to provide assistance for them to continue farming.
On Monday, this publication was told that the flood waters are continuing to slowly recede in several sections of the community. Reports indicated that the tractor and workmen with cutlasses continued to conduct clearing of moss and grass in the canal.
However, farmers are still contemplating their next moves to return into the field.
On a visit to the area on Saturday, this newspaper was told of the millions of dollars in losses that the farmers incurred. According to cash crop farmer, Imran Bashk, they were already facing financial challenges from rising production costs and many had called on the agriculture ministry to ensure that farmers in the area get adequate assistance for fertilizers and other chemicals.
Bashk noted that farmers in his community would welcome engagement from the National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI).
“The Minister of Agriculture need to come out and meet the people; cane, rice and cabbage not planting in [his] office; come here and see what we planting, bring NAREI to see the farmers here,” the cash crop farmer urged.
Earlier this month, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) created a credit system for farmers to access fertilizer and repay the board at the end of each crop. The cash crop farmers expressed hope for the ministry to implement a similar financial arrangement for them to restart farming.
“If you go IPED, what [will you get]; take $ 200,000 and mortgage your house again,” Bashk questioned.
“Government must come with something, give we seed, fertliser, chemical so we can do something and it’s not me alone, is a hundred like me in Canal here. I begging for that help,” the cash crop farmer further noted.
On Saturday the flooding which was spurred on by intense heavy rainfall over a five-day period caused inundation to homes and farmlands in the area.
South Section farmer Dookie (only name) said that some 200 of his pear crops which he planted 15 months ago are threatened. He had also explained that it was only weeks ago that he invested around $1 million to excavate his drains in preparations for the heavy rainfall but his peppers and pakchoy were all destroyed.
Many of the farmers blamed the local NDC and Regional Democratic Council (RDC) for ignoring their numerous complaints.
It was reported that the flooding could have been avoided if the tender board had facilitated the contract being awarded for drainage works in the area.
This publication was informed that previously, a former large scale sugar cane farmer was granted monthly contracts for clearing clogged drains over the years.
However, changes in the tendering process awarded the contract to several contractors instead. It is this back-and-forth that many believed was responsible for the flooding.
The farmers reported that they have not seen such water levels since the 2005 floods.