CWC wildfire: Region seeks Agri Ministry’s help to assist farmers

A farm destroyed by wildfire at Crabwood Creek

The Agriculture Ministry has been called on to determine the level of intervention it can provide to help farmers who have lost their crops to a wildfire raging for days at Crabwood Creek on the Corentyne in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).

At least three farmers have told the publication over the weekend that the fire has consumed a large portion of their farms, and bearing plantain suckers have been destroyed. Farmers reported on Thursday that the fire was still burning.

In a comment to this publication on the situation, Region Six Chairman David Armogan said the Agriculture Ministry has been contacted after farmers at Torani Canal at Crabwood Creek, Corentyne reported that wildfires had destroyed some of their crops.

Farmers discovered last week Tuesday that the vegetation adjacent to cultivated fields was burning. The following day, aided by the wind, the fire crossed the canal and started burning sections of the cultivated area. One farmer said seven acres of his cultivated plot was destroyed, while another farmer said five of his 15-acre cultivated plot was destroyed; and yet another farmer reported that the fire had consumed a significant portion of his plantain cultivation.

More than 50 farmers cultivate land at Torani Canal, with most of it being under plantain and citrus cultivation currently.

One farmer has said that, as at Thursday, fire was raging in an uncultivated area with plantain fields on both the left and right sides. According to that farmer, the situation is not likely to change by today.

Chairman Armogan has said the Region 6 Administration is in receipt of reports from those farmers in relation to the damages their farms have suffered.

“We have reported that to the respective authorities, and so they are looking at it, because those people lost heavily. One man said that he lost $7 million, so it is in the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture,” Armogan said in an invited comment on Thursday. Apart from plantains, a lot of citrus crops have been affected by the wildfire.

There are reports that the fire was set by a cattle farmer. The Regional Chairman has warned that this is not the time to be lighting fires, as the country is currently experiencing extremely dry El Niño conditions.

“The Fire Service has reported that there are over 20 cases of wildfires within the region. Have to be very careful during this dry weather period; they are not to light garbage heaps all over the place, and light fire in the grass,” he said as he made mention of a recent fire which destroyed two houses at Mount Sanai in New Amsterdam last week.

“Somebody lit the grass to get rid of the grass, and they end up burning down two buildings. So, we have to be very careful,” he warned.

In an appeal to the public, the Regional Chairman pointed out that smokers should ensure that the fires on their cigarettes are extinguished before the butt is discarded. “At the same time, we all have to be careful at how we are lighting garbage heaps, because (those fires) can spread. You see what is happening to the Municipal Dumpsite in New Amsterdam? The methane gas is rising there, and so even when you get it out, about two days after, the fire catches again; and the smoke is very dangerous as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, farmers at Torani Canal have said they requested the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) to assist them with the digging of drains between the forested area and the cultivated area, so as to prevent the fire from spreading east to the cultivated area. They said there has so far been no positive response to their request, despite the agency having an excavator in the area.