General Manager (acting) of the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) Mahendranauth Ramjit said farmers in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) are demonstrating their commitment to partnering with the Government towards the development of the local agriculture sector.
The payment of drainage and irrigation charges by farmers to the MMA-ADA is a critical part of the operational capacity of the entity – and with the Government reducing those charges from $15,000 per acre to $3500; farmers have begun honouring their financial obligations to MMA.
Despite the floods which have been acknowledged as a national disaster as declared by President Dr Irfaan Ali, the MMA-ADA is reporting that its rate collection from farmers for the first half of the year is at an all-time high – with 55 per cent of the year’s projected collection already received from farmers.
According to Ramjit, the farmers have demonstrated their commitment to the partnership between them and Government in ensuring agricultural development in the region.
He explained that farmers have been coming forward to pay their land taxes following massive upgrades to the drainage and irrigation structures in the MMA scheme which Government implemented through the direction of Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha when he took office last year.
According to Ramjit, farmers have been cooperating with the MMA in terms of helping the agency to generate revenue.
He noted that some 700 miles of canals have been cleared in the MMA scheme for the year.
As a result, farmers have paid more than $168 million of the $304 million projected for the year 2021.
“This has helped us to be able to carry out most of our maintenance work to some of our structures and access dams and canals. I must thank the farmers for their contribution and for being in partnership with the MMA,” Ramjit said in an exclusive interview.
Ramjit said those farmers who have not been forthcoming with payments need to come on board and enable the agency to carry out more development work for farmers who cultivate in the scheme.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha was loud in his praise of the Region Five farmers who heeded the call to partner with Government in the development of agriculture in the region.
However, he is calling on defaulters to also support the partnership.
“I want to continue to encourage the farmers. As a matter of fact, we have two new excavators at MMA and we will be buying another two so MMA will have a fleet of machinery but we can only provide the services if the farmers help us to form this partnership. I am heartened to know that the farmers are coming forward – they are listening to my plea and they are coming forward to pay. I want to ask them to continue.”
Referring to a commitment made by the People’s Progressive Party while in Opposition, that it was going to reverse land rental to what they were in 2015 should the Party be elected to office, Mustapha noted that land charges have been reduced significantly.
Those charges have been reduced by more than 80 per cent.
“That is a tremendous reduction and because of that more money is now in the pockets of the farmers, so I want to ask, plea and appeal to them to continue to pay their arrears and continue to pay the rental charges so that MMA and other similar agencies can have funds to do work in these areas,” the Agriculture Minister added.
The MMA has already begun the work of rebuilding the damaged dams and bridges following the floods to ensure farmers have access to their lands.
The MMA-ADA is an Authority set up specifically to administer agricultural development in Region Five and is responsible for over 800 miles of drainage and irrigation canals. Its responsibility spans from the east bank of the Mahaica River to the west bank of the Berbice River and from the Atlantic seaboard to about 30 miles inland.
According to Ramjit, the MMA has been on the ground working shoulder to shoulder with the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to help flood-stricken farmers do what is necessary to empolder and/or drain water from flooded lands and homesteads.
Nevertheless, he said the MMA will be forging ahead with its capital works programme for the remainder of the year. [Guyana Times]