Emergency works ordered to help flood-affected Mahaicony rice farmers

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Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha speaking with residents and farmers in Mahaicony

Minister of Agriculture,  Zulfikar Mustapha on Friday said emergency works to repair the dams and clear clogged channels in the Mahaicony area would begin over the weekend to bring relief to farmers, who are suffering losses due to flooding.

The Minister made this commitment during an outreach to the Region Five community to get a first-hand look at the conditions there.

Intermittent heavy rainfall there  over the last few weeks have left several farmers inundated, and have made recently rehabilitated dams impassable.

Minister Mustapha also said a team from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) would be conducting an assessment there over the weekend.

“We have two excavators in the area. I just spoke to my two technical officers to assess the amount of work needed in the area and we’ll put another one or two machines here to complete the works. These works should be completed within a week.

I’ve also instructed the GRDB and the NDIA to carry out an assessment over the weekend and provide me with a report by Monday. I know some of you, your fields are under water and we are working around the clock to put mechanisms in place to assist you. We recently started some work in the creek and we will be carrying out several other projects in the area as time progresses,” Minister Mustapha said.

He urged the farmers to be use the structures responsibly, particularly during the rainy season.

“Although we know some of the problems affecting the farmers, you too have to cooperate with us because oftentimes some farmers operate selfishly. If you have your animals on the dams or use heavy machinery to transport your paddy when the rains are already posing a threat to the dam, then other farmers would suffer.

We will continue to work with you to see how best we can assist farmers to get their paddy out and minimize losses,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister also told farmers that the MMA and the NDIA would be examining the use of those machines in the area to ensure downtime is minimised. Additionally, a technical team from the Ministry would return to the area by Tuesday to meet with residents and provide a status report on the proposed works.

Farmer Chatram Deoraj, 68, of Mahaicony River said his field was inundated and he was seeking the Minister’s assistance for an excavator to clear the drainage channel to drain his field.

The farmer said that he has already lost some of his crops, and he had been using a pump to try to drain the area, which ultimately failed due to the volume of water in his field.

Another farmer, Mr. Deowan Kumar, also from Mahaicony River, said incomplete works on the access dam are currently delaying both himself and his son from reaping.

“We have 100 acres of rice that is ready to be reaped, but the access dam is not finished as yet for the truck and the combine to come in and cut the rice. A GRDB staff is here. They can tell you when the (GRDB) 12 paddy is ready to reap. It is 125 days right now.

I know there were some hiccups with the machine that was supposed to come here, but I’m appealing for you to see what can be done to assist us,” Mr. Kumar said.

Mr. Ethan Bowen, a rice farmer from Strat Campbell, said due to road works in the area, rice farmers are finding it difficult to access their fields.

“We have a farm-to-market road and the street has asphalt and after that, we have the dam. The contractor came to do the street. He excavated the street. The rains came and now we cannot get access to the rice field so we stand to lose rice there.

Those works started over three weeks ago and he hasn’t been coming to do much work. He would just come and throw some sand and leave and we need something to be done so that we can have access to our fields,” Mr. Bowen said.

Farmers also appealed for more farm-to-market roads to be constructed in those farming communities.

Director General at the Ministry, Mr. Madanlall Ramraj and other senior officers from the Ministry also attended the outreach. (Department of Public Information)