The Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) administration has run out of money to purchase fuel to pump water into the cultivation areas on the Corentyne and the Black Bush Polder.
This is according to Regional Chairman David Armogan.
Armogan said the administration was only able to pay for 90,000 litres of fuel, which is equivalent to about 20,000 gallons.
“This is far from adequate,” he said.
In the Black Bush Polder, where there are five pumps, 1200 gallons of fuel is needed per day. Hence, the fuel purchased is estimated to last for about 15 days if all five pumps are in operation.
“If you are operating only for 15 days, what happens to the rest of the crop after the 15 days would have expired? Then crops will spoil. It’s not the something that we want,” Armogan said.
An additional 40,000 gallons of fuel will be needed for the rest of the year but according to the Chairman, there is no money available to purchase fuel.
“The Government cut the fuel budget by almost $70 million which would have been adequate to purchase fuel to last us until the end of the crop. Unfortunately, that is not possible and I am very worried as to what will take place if some intervention is not made at this point in time by Central Government or by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). Farmers will be in trouble,” the Regional Chairman added.
Armogan told this publication that he has been meeting with farmers in the Black Bush Polder and explaining the current situation so that they can make informed decisions as to whether to go into the crop.
He explained that currently, only two pumps are functioning in the Polder since there is not enough fuel to operate all five of the pumps.
“This is the time of the year that the farmers need water to begin to crop and during this period normally all five pumps are put into operation.”
The water is also irrigated to the Corentyne and utilised by farmers in the 52-72 area.
“So, if Black Bush is not able to get enough water for themselves for the rice and cash crops within Black Bush Polder, and the front lands depend on water from the Polder, then there will be no production in the front lands.”
Meanwhile, the Rice Producers Association has also been apprised on the situation.
Farmers in the Yakusari [one of the four Polders that make up Black Bush] are faced with an additional problem. Two canals which take water to the farmers are blocked and even if fuel is sourced and all of the pumps are put into operation, water will not get to those farmers.
The canals must be cleared.
According to Armogan, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has since been contacted.
The two canals are the YS Canal and the JY Canal.
The regional administration had given a contractor the job of cleaning the YS Canal several months ago. However, the contractor’s excavator reportedly experienced mechanical problems and he could not have done the work.
“Only now they have decided to call in the contractor when the situation has reached a crisis level,” Armogan said.
That contractor has now informed the administration that he is now in a position to execute the contract since his machine has been repaired.
However, the Regional Chairman said it would require two machines at this point in time to get the work done if farmers in the Yakusari area are to go into the spring crop.
Farmers between the 51 and Good Hope Villages are also dependent on the YS Canal.
The Chairman said the decision is now Government’s as to whether it wants farmers in the Black Bush Polder to proceed with the crop. He said the administration will continue to advise farmers on the current situation and they will have to decide whether they want to take the risk and start planting.
If they do this and there is no water available, the Chairman added, it will mean total destruction of all the crops planted.
“This is something we don’t want farmers to get involved in because these are people who still owe the banks large sums of money, and if they don’t get this rice crop going and if they do not make money out of it, they will not be able to meet their financial obligations to the banks that they are indebted to,” the Regional Chairman explained.