$1.6B spent on MMA-ADA development, infrastructure works

Some $1.6 billion has been expended over the past two years for critical development and infrastructural works at the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary – Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) Scheme.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

Since taking office on August 2, 2020, the PPP/C Government addressed numerous problems at the authority, which according to Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, were caused by the blatant neglect of the agriculture sector by the APNU+AFC Coalition Government.

“When you look at the whole contribution the MMA has been making into the agriculture sector, it is tremendous, and as a result of that we have seen not so long ago, burdens were placed on the backs of the farmers in that scheme, where land rental and D&I charges were increased from $3,500 to $15,000,” Minister Mustapha told the National Assembly, during the 49th sitting of the 12th Parliament, on Monday.

Clearing of drains and canals at the MMA-ADA Scheme

Deemed one of the most important agriculture schemes in Guyana, the agriculture minister pointed out the removal of the financial burden on farmers.  

“We made a commitment while we were in opposition that we will reverse that land rental and D&I charges, and I am happy to say that in October of 2020, we brought a motion to this House and we have reversed the D&I charges and land rental from $15,000 to $3,500 once again per acre,” the minister emphasised.

The significant undertaking has resulted in farmers saving approximately $1.8 billion as disposable income.

Acres of rice cultivation at the MMA-ADA Scheme

Additionally, Minister Mustapha told the National Assembly that the scheme now has a fleet of six excavators, along with several other pieces of machinery working extensively daily to improve infrastructure for better production.

Some 730 miles of drains and canals have already been excavated, while several dams are being repaired at regular intervals.

Almost all of the intake structures and sluices were maintained over the last two years.

The MMA-ADA is an authority set up specifically to administer agricultural development in Region Five. The authority is also responsible for over 800 miles of drainage and irrigation canals.

The Authority contributes 35 to 50 percent of the gross national rice production.

The first phase of the MMA-ADA Scheme was completed in the mid-1980s with a conservancy situated at the headwaters of the Abary River. This phase services approximately 40,000 acres of paddy production from state lands, and about another 20,000 acres of private lands within the Abary Berbice District.

The MMA-ADA 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.

The irrigation system also services some 14,000 acres of cultivation of the Blairmont Sugar Estate.

The MMA-ADA also plans to expand its services. A technical team has begun studies to finalise two other phases of work in the Scheme to effectively service the upper reaches of the Mahaicony and Mahaica Rivers.

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has committed to helping farmers produce better rice yields, with the provision of additional resources to aid research.

Several farmers have since commended the intervention by the government, as they are now enjoying the benefits.