A number of small-scale rice farmers living in Champagne, Mahaicony River, East Coast Demerara (ECD) are battling to sustain their livelihoods as the present weather condition and the lack of finances are having a negative impact on their crop production.
Inews understands that to date many of those affected have not been paid by rice millers for their paddy during the last rice crops and that currently, there is no irrigation water accessible or available for their produce during this crop.
As a result of the non-payment by the millers, the rice farmers have little or no money at all to return to their fields for this crop. However, for those who have managed to do so they are struggling to ensure the survival of their produce at present with the pro-longed dry season.
According to the farmers, rice millers are yet to pay them for paddy produced during the last crops and as such they have been enquiring on a weekly basis about the outstanding monies.
Yet this has been to no avail since the millers have not been able to provide the farmers with suitable answers as to when they will finally be paid the monies that they are owed.
Meanwhile, the rice farmers expressed their concern about the “hands-off attitude” of the present administration in relation to the rice millers not paying them what they are owed.
It was pointed out that the previous government, the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) administration, on such occasions would intervene and demand that farmers receive their monies in a timely manner so that they can start their new crops.
Meanwhile, another pressing issue for the rice farmers in Mahaicony is that because of the pro-longed dry season they are unable to get an adequate supply of water for their crops.
The little bit of water that is in some of the drains are been pumped out by the large farmers that have pumps. There is an irrigation pump that is located at Mora Point in the Mahaicony River, that the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary (MMA) would normally use during the dry season to pump
water into the irrigation drains to help farmers, but that pump is not working on a regular schedule to supply water,” said one farmer.
The small-scale rice farmers are calling on the APNU+AFC government to assist in this situation by putting additional pumps in the Mahaicony River to help them with water for their rice crops.
At present, over 95 per cent of rice lands are having major difficulties in accessing water.