Farmers of the Buxton/Friendship, East Coast Demerara will soon benefit from much-needed upgrades to their communities’ drainage and irrigation system.
Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha made this disclosure during a recent visit there. Over the past few months, the Minister has been engaging farmers’ groups in a bid to resuscitate and develop the villages agriculture sector.
On Tuesday afternoon, Minister Mustapha met farmers from various farmers’ groups to discuss projects needed to improve agriculture in the community.
One farmer said that there was need for major improvements to the villages’ drainage system. He also said that farmers’ groups should work together so that a more comprehensive approach can be taken when executing works in the community.
“We want to reach with other farming groups in Buxton so that we can have one body because if we are fragmented, we will not be able to utilise the little resources that are available. I hope when the engineer visits, members of the other group are made aware so that they can be a party to that visit.
“My impression is that most of the farmers do not understand the layout of the village and its drainage and irrigation system and how it was designed. So collectively, I think we could use the information we have available and get better results. All of the farmers did suffer from the water during the flooding. I want to suspect that there was some over-topping by the estate at Annandale and beyond the crown dam. There are about 400 acres of land beyond the crown dam that was used as a pasture. I don’t think the structure is in place for that right now. I do hope when we are addressing this the other groups are involved so that a more comprehensive approach can be taken,” he said.
The farmer also told Minister Mustapha that members of the various farmers’ groups have been in discussion with officers from NAREI to identify a piece of land that can be used as a demonstration plot so that farmers in the village can be taught how to properly grow and manage the cultivation of crops like ginger, turmeric, and other non-traditional crops.
Another farmer said that works were done, but were discontinued abruptly in the early parts of 2019, and that since then, maintenance works on the drains have not been carried out.
Minister Mustapha told farmers that there are a host of opportunities available for all farmers, more so small-scale farmers in Guyana under the PPP/C administration.
“Right now, there are a lot of opportunities that exist in the agriculture sector for small farmers. We are pushing for the production of a lot of crops. Our extension officers are working with farmers to enhance their production and in a smarter way. With climate change taking place, we cannot do agriculture the way we used to. We are also building a number of packaging facilities so that farmers can package their produce and make it more value-added. If we are going to really develop the sector we cannot work in isolation. We have to involve everyone. If farmers need help, as Minister of Agriculture, I will work with you,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Minister also welcomed the suggestion of having all the farmers’ groups in the village work together.
“When the groups are consolidated and they come as one body, then stronger representation can be made. I will work along with you to ensure these things that you are requesting get done. We may not be able to do everything at once but we will do works to develop agriculture in the villages.
“I’m happy that you recognise the importance of developing agriculture and that you are willing to work with the Government to develop the sector in your community. I am prepared to work with you and give you the kind of help to get things going. Right now, the most important thing to do is the drainage system in the community,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Minister told residents that the Ministry, through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), will be working to restore the drainage and irrigation system in the village.
“Our engineer will be coming back tomorrow to do a comprehensive report with all the works that are needed. We will do the side-line trenches and all the drains in the community. Once I have that report, I will give instructions for the works to commence. I am making that commitment. If we have to send in a machine or two to do the work or get a contractor, we will do it.
“When the major works are completed, we will be employing community groups to do the maintenance works through the CDCs. My Ministry will work with you to develop your agricultural production. As Minister of Agriculture, I will not discriminate. I’m willing to go to every agricultural community to enhance production,” Minister Mustapha said.