New MMA-ADA Board urged to open new lands

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Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday officially installed the Board of Directors for the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary Agriculture Development Authority (MMA/ADA) Scheme.

With the installation of the new Board of Directors, persons in the scheme will now be able to have their land lease and use issues resolved at the Board level.

During a brief meeting with the new Board, Minister Mustapha told the new Members that with the new investments coming on board for agriculture, they must work aggressively to guide Government with formulating policies to develop the scheme.

“MMA is the largest and one of the most important agriculture schemes in our country. With the experience of the persons on this Board, I think that we can move MMA from where it is now to greater heights, but we have to work together. The renewed interest we’ve seen in agriculture over the last three months is a result of our proactiveness. We’ve been reaching with farmers and the various stakeholders in an effort to get an idea of some of the issues they were faced with, as well as, promote what Government has in store for them,” the Minister said.

He added: “A number of persons, both locally and overseas, have expressed interest in the sector. It is now up to us to ensure we prepare the necessary infrastructure and put the necessary policies in place to facilitate these investments.”

“Recently, I made a presentation to the delegation that came from Dubai on how we can improve and increase rice production by one hundred percent over the next four years. If we are going to achieve this the MMA has to play the most important role in terms of opening new lands and developing the second phase of the MMA Scheme.”

Newly appointed Chairman of the Board, Dr. Bob Andy Ramnauth urged the new members to take their role seriously and to work as a collective to resolve the issues in the scheme.

“You are not here by chance. Your experience and expertise have afforded you the opportunity to be here. We all bring to this table, a wealth of knowledge. If you look around this table you see knowledge, wisdom, youth, vigor and vitality and that is what we need to move this scheme forward. We are here to perform a task. We should be able to help farmers and change the lives of these farmers. Ove the past couple of years we would have seen the deterioration of agriculture in our country, therefore as members of this Board we have a task to reverse that,” Dr. Ramnauth said.

Minister Mustapha further stated that Government also expects the Board to be proactive as it relates to land use policies in the scheme.

“I am happy to have Mr. Andrew Bishop on the Board. He is a former Lands Commissioner so he has great knowledge on land use. With his experience and the experience of other members, I am sure we can develop a proper land use policy for the MMA, which is needed if we are to properly develop the scheme. Many persons visit me during my Farmers’ Open Day with a lot of disputes with lands in this area. I would like to suggest that the Board discuss setting up a Lands Dispute Sub-committee so that we can have that implemented as soon as possible. It should comprise someone with a legal background, a farmers’ representative and someone with knowledge on proper land use and management,” Minister Mustapha said.

The subject Minister also said focus must be placed on zoning and developing lands for cattle rearing in the Scheme.

Two weeks after taking office, Government approved $90 Million to carry out much needed infrastructural works in the MMA-ADA Scheme.

Mohamed Zaid Rafeeoodeen, who was elected Vice Chairman of the Board, thanked Minister Mustapha for this timely intervention, which saw funds being made available to carry out much needed drainage works in the scheme.

“I must take this opportunity to thank Minister Mustapha for intervening at a very early stage when this Government started in August by helping farmers in the MMA. You would’ve made available, through the Government, a large sum of money to put into the MMA. With this intervention, we were able to clear, deweed and put on maintenance well over 300 channels. If we were not able to have this done at that stage then rice farming in this Region, not only would’ve been difficult, but would’ve been near impossible,” Mr. Rafeeoodeen said.

The other members of the newly elected Board of Directors are Vickchand Ramphal, Dr. Dwight Waldron, Lionel Wordsworth, Andrew Bishop, Aditya Persaud, Madanlall Ramraj, Moses Rampal, Dawchan Nagasar and Curbette Victorine (General Manager/Ex Officio). [Extracted and Modified: Ministry of Agriculture Press Release]