Agri research station, reservoir to be constructed at Pirara
DPI, Guyana, Monday, April 16, 2018
A stakeholder’s consultation was held over the weekend, in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) on the way forward for the Hinterland Sustainable Agriculture Development programme which will see a component of the project being implemented in the region.
Present at the meeting were the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock and Head of the Project Cycle Management Division Ministry of Finance, Tarachand Balgobin, Regional Chairman, Brian Allicock and a representative from the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GLSC), the Ministry of Agriculture and Toshaos from the various communities.
A total of $265M was allocated in the 2018 National Budget for the design and construction of a research station in Region Nine. The research station will consist of demonstration plots, herds of cattle, poultry rearing, fish ponds, orchards and seed stock. It will also boast a huge reservoir that will provide irrigation year-round, thereby addressing the extended dry seasons which result in drought-like conditions and an abattoir.
At the meeting, the Toshaos, who raised concerns about the proposed Pirara location for the project, asked that it be put on hold until the Nappi Village land extension is completed. They also contended that the process of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was not done prior to the project’s consideration.
At the meeting, Raymond Latchman, a Civil engineer attached to the Agriculture Sector Development Unit explained that initially, three locations were identified for the project, Cashew Lake in the Pirara area; Foot Hill, which is on the western side where the Nappi River meets Pirara River; and upstream of the Nappi River.
Latchman further explained that Cashew Lake is the smallest of the three locations identified, which is way below what was required. As such, he said that wells will have to be considered.
Responding to the issue raised on the land extension, Head of the Project Cycle Management Division, Ministry of Finance, Tarachand Balgobin explained that land tenure is a drawn-out process that takes time.
“Even if you wait for that, the project cannot wait for it, the project has a timeline, the availability of the money has a timeline, but that timeline is not the same time as the extension. If we cannot come to an agreement, we cannot advance the project. we are here today to resolve it. “
Balgobin further explained that a number of factors had to be considered in the conceptualisation stages of the project; these include soil type, climatic conditions, among others. This is to ensure that the research being done at the facility, would represent what an arid environment would look like so that the research would be adaptable.
On the issue of FPIC, Balgobin noted that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is funding the programme, classified that project as ‘B’, hence the FPIC was not a substantive consideration from the inception. The IDB classifies projects it funds in four graduated categories—A, B, C, and Uncategorised —according to the scale of the project, location, sensitivity and potential impact.
After a day-long deliberation, the parties decided that the Pirara location is best suited for the project.
Minister Sydney Allicock commended the parties for reaching a consensus on the location, which will see the project moving forward.
The minister spoke of the importance of the presence of an agriculture station in the Rupununi. “Governments past and present have expended millions of dollars in these communities, but are we seeing the results, is there better management. since I’m there, we have spent funding to do cattle and other forms of agriculture…But we are not getting the returns because we don’t have the technical persons in place. And that is why this new agriculture station is important to do the research so that in the year plan you can get that support to help you to be economically strong.”
The project is part of a US$15M loan with the long-term objective being increased productivity in the agriculture sector while maintaining sustainable and climate resilient use of Guyana’s natural resources. The loan agreement, which was signed between the Government of Guyana and the IDB, will be implemented over a six-year period.
By: Synieka Thorne