Agri. Minister calls for collaboration between Craig, Garden of Eden farmers

Ministry to work with communities to develop farmers groups, NDIA to continue with infrastructural works on communities’ D&I systems

On Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha met with farmers of Craig and Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara.

During the meetings, farmers from both villages raised a number of concerns with the minister related to farming in their communities.

Minister ZUlfikar Mustapha while addressing farmers during the meeting

Farmers at Craig related that Co-op was not being managed properly, noting that some farmers were afraid to voice their grievances over fears of being victimised by the Co-op’s Chairman.

One farmer from Craig who spoke out at the meeting said due to the current operations of the Co-op, agriculture in the community cannot progress.

“They occupy land with the intent of planting it but they are not planting it or giving farmers the opportunity to plant it. I went to the Co-op office in Georgetown and lodged a complaint. I came to meetings again and felt victimized. We are not progressing as a group in terms of farming,” the farmer said.

The Chairman of the Co-op, who was also present at the meeting denied claims that he victimised individuals, highlighting that the body has rules which members need to follow.

Another farmer said works need to be conducted to give farmers access to their lands.

One of the farmers while raising an issue

“The machine that was sent was a brand-new machine and it was working perfectly. Around the second of August, the machine was moved without anyone’s knowledge. Between the sixth and the tenth of August, a next machine came back to the area but that machine couldn’t walk the path. We got another machine to pull it out. It came out from the hole and is still there waiting for the mechanic to look after it while the farmers suffer. We have a reasonable amount of drainage because of the work the ministry has done so far but some of the trenches are blocked up because of the big trees and so that is around it. Cutting the trees is not a problem but African Bees are all over those trees. As soon as you start the machine you have to run for cover,” the farmer said.

Meanwhile, farmers from Garden of Eden complained about the drainage and blamed the operators for not opening the sluices on time.

However, two of the sluice operators in question, who were at the meeting denied the claims. They noted that the structures were operated based on the tide.

On both occasions, Minister Mustapha called for farmers to work together. He also encouraged them to create farmers’ groups so that they can collaborate closer with the ministry.

Some of the farmers from Craig during the meeting

“Those groups will be registered under the Ministry of Agriculture and our agencies will work with those groups to try and solve all of the farming issues faced in your communities. A team from the ministry will be coming back to these communities within a week to work on developing a programme of works for the community,” Minister Mustapha said. 

He also told farmers that the machine that has been inoperable in the community will be fixed and another would soon be sent to the communities to complete the drainage works. The machine will also aid in the execution of community projects. The farmers’ groups are expected to provide an outline detailing what works are needed in the communities, so that the ministry can work along with them.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development would also be engaged to address issues relating to the operation of the sluices in the areas.

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