EYEWITNESS: Hapless…

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…or biased in Agri

The head of the Agri research unit (NAREI) assured us recently that we shouldn’t worry about going the way of Nigeria, Venezuela and all the other oil producers that allowed their agricultural sector to wither on the vine (pardon the pun!). They then lost “cost and husk” (couldn’t help it!) when the bottom  fell out of oil (barrel).  The fella seems quite well-meaning, but really, he just exemplifies the truism that the “road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Even the British, by the fag end of colonial rule, accepted that Guyana  needed to diversify from the monoculture of sugar. They had the agriculture research institute move away from just creating newer varieties of sugar cane. But there was no real diversification was there? There is a lesson from that experience for us in the present. The rice industry had been painfully enlarged by private peasant farmers by that time through trial and error.

But it wasn’t until the PPP government, during its 1957-64 stint, that they began to push for rice research. However, the important thing is, they didn’t stop there. They recognised that water control for drainage and irrigation is literally the lifeblood of a viable rice expansion. And so, we had the Black Bush Polder scheme that opened up not just new lands that were suitable for rice but brought in farmers who could actually produce the crop.

So, if the NAREI head’s prediction of diversification on agriculture is to become real with onions, Irish potatoes, broccoli, etc, being produced in commercial quantities, the government will have to be willing to move from the “test plots” to actually facilitating real-live farmers to produce them in farmlands. Last year, the government budgeted an impressive sounding $20B for “agriculture” – more than what GuySuCo needed to tide it over until it was brought to a point of sale.

But how much has been spent on facilitating real farmers to produce the new crops in real time? The spending pattern is very reminiscent of the actions of the PNC government when they took over the government in 1964. Even though they cut the budget for Agri, what they did approve was directed at their supporters – putatively for agriculture. This regime, for instance, secured a CDF loan of $2.5B (US$10.4M) for agriculture in Ithaca, Triumph and Buxton, and Mocha. Three pumps will also be installed at Buxton.

It’s hoped since lands were already cleared and prepared in these areas, at least the pioneering crops will also be introduced to lead Guyana into the brave new world of agricultural diversification.

It appears that offering lands to do the same with sugar workers has been abandoned.

…or venal in Public Infrastructure

The bard HAD advised, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive”. But when it comes to the Public Infrastructure Ministry, it’s clear that even with sustained practice at deception, the web’s getting even more “tangled”! It’s as if Patterson wants to give Spidey a run for his money!!

And your Eyewitness is only referring to Patterson’s record on the proposed new Demerara Harbour Bridge! If he’s one of the “better” Ministers (according to the Stabber news) imagine what’s going on in this government!!

After the faux pas on retaining a retracting bridge, sole sourcing the Feasibility Study, and creating the “Ming Swing”, he now admits he lied when he said the IDB paid for the study. He’ll now have to explain from which SECRET bank account the $143M came from. And imagine we still haven’t arrived at ordering the concrete for the Bridge!!

AFC’s Patterson and Trotman are making the PNC look like cherubs!!

…on overpass

Gridlocked East Bank commuters sighed in relief when the Public Infrastructure Ministry promised and accepted bids for an overpass at Diamond.

But that’s now cancelled, says Patterson. Ooops!!!…he hadn’t checked whether the required land was available!!

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