$174M conservancy, drainage works for West Watooka
– aims to provide year-round irrigation for farmers
The Ministry of Agriculture, through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) on Tuesday, awarded three contracts valued over $174 million to upgrade drainage, irrigation and other critical agricultural structures in West Watooka, Region 10.
The contracts were signed by NDIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Fredrick Flatts and the contractors, while Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha overlooked the process.
Kascon Engineering Services was awarded a $41 million contract to construct the conservancy dams and rehabilitate the drainage and irrigation channels in the community. Additionally, M&P Investments signed a $116 million contract to build drainage and irrigation structures. Both documents have a duration of 12 months.
E and A Consultants Incorporated were also hired as the consultancy service for the design, review and supervision of construction of dams and drainage and irrigation structures. That contract, which is valued over $17 million, has a duration of eight months.
Minister Mustapha said the Government’s investment will significantly boost agriculture in the district.
“That means you can plant and do farming for the entire year because you will have you own water. Droughts will not affect you anymore after the construction of this conservancy.
So, this is the way we feel as a Government that we have to invest in this sector because when I took over as Minister, there were a number of requests across the country to do repairs and rehabilitate structures,” he said.
Minister Mustapha said it is the Ministry’s responsibility to continue meeting the needs of farmers, noting that a large sum from the $18.5 billion which was budgeted for the sector in the 2020 Emergency Budget was exhausted addressing critical works nationwide.
“The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has employed various workers and officers so that we can be more responsive to your needs.
They have to come to your farm rather than you going to them and we have to develop that kind of attitude now! Gone are the days when Extension Officers sit in their offices and wait for the farmers to come. They have to go to the farmers,” he said.
Minister Mustapha explained that the Caribbean imports between US$8 to US$10 billion in agriculture produce annually and Guyana is making preparations so that it can supply a large percentage of those markets.
“And that is why the President is very passionate when it comes to the agriculture sector and has made it very clear that this sector will have a lot of investment and we will continue to support the farmers.
“We will continue to ensure that we create the necessary mechanisms, we will continue to develop the infrastructure so that you the farmers and beneficiaries will have the opportunity to improve your farming methods and productions,” Minister Mustapha added.
Further, the Minister advised residents to establish a committee to monitor and examine the works until their completion.
The contracts followed closely on the heels of requests farmers made of the Minister when he visited the area last year. At that time, they had asked for an excavator to be provided for drainage and irrigation works. The machine was dispatched the following day and to date it ahs cleared about 4,000 rods of canals.