Agri. Minister commissions $24M grader in Reg. 6

says some $84 million to be expended for dam maintenance for 2022

Rice farmers in Region Six (East Berbice – Corentyne) will soon benefit from a more efficient access dam maintenance programme with the addition of a brand-new motor grader to the region’s fleet of machinery.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha commissioned the grader on Sunday, August 28, 2022, at the ministry’s sub-office at Tarlogie on the Corentyne Coast.

The grader that was commissioned

The machine was procured for $24 million under the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s (NDIA) 2022 capital expenditure programme.

While offering remarks, Minister Mustapha said that the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is working to double rice production within the next three years. He also said that in order to achieve this, the ministry has expended large sums of money to execute much-needed rehabilitation work to access dams in the rice cultivation areas.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and other representatives from the ministry at the commissioning

“We have to use the infrastructure more responsibly. $34 million was allocated initially for this region for dam maintenance works under the ministry. By the end of the year, roughly $84 million will be spent to rehabilitate access dams in the region because more work was needed.  These are temporary works because we have to do them every crop. This is why the government is looking to construct all-weather roads but those are large projects that require a lot of funds, but will be done over time,” Minister Mustapha said.

While there, Minister Mustapha also met with farmers to listen to some of their concerns. Many farmers present told the minister that a number of access dams in the cultivation areas needed urgent rehabilitation.

Several farmers from Manchester Village also told the minister that several trenches needed to be cleaned for some time now.

Minister Mustapha while engaging farmers

While responding to the farmers’ concerns, Minister Mustapha indicated that the regional engineers had submitted a list of access dams that needed upgrades. While listing some of the areas submitted, Minister Mustapha assured the farmers that all the access dams in the cultivation areas would be fixed. He also told the farmers that a machine will be sent to the area to clear the trenches.

“I want to assure you; a list of dams was submitted and we will rehabilitate all of those dams. In other parts of the country, we have farmers who have contracts to maintain these access dams. We can look at that for Region Six. If there are farmers with the capacity, we can have that system set up so that the dams can be made to your satisfaction. Instead of bringing persons from out of the region to do these works, the beneficiaries would do them, The farmers, especially from Manchester, have raised the issue of trenches needing to be cleaned and dams needing to be fixed. I’ve asked the NDIA to designate a machine for the area until all those works in the Manchester/Lancaster/Liverpool area are done. The machine should be available in the new week. We will work with you so that we can develop a prioritized work programme,” he noted.

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