Approximately $500M distributed in Reg. 3 as part of Gov’t flood-relief initiative

On Saturday last, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha spearheaded the government’s ongoing flood-relief initiative at the West Demerara Secondary School, Leonora Secondary School and Meten Meer Zorg Primary School on the West Coast of Demerara, Region Three (Essequibo Islands – West Demerara).

Region Three is the fifth region to benefit from government’s the relief efforts following this year’s extended May-June rainy period which resulted in flooding in most of the ten administrative regions of Guyana.

Minister Mustapha, while addressing farmers present, informed farmers and residents who were present at the various distribution sites that Regen Three will benefit from approximately $500 million by the end of the distribution.

“Today we are here to continue distributing flood-relief grants to those who would’ve suffered during the flood earlier this year. Approximately half a billion dollars will be distributed in Region Three. We might exceed that because persons are still coming forward to claim losses. Our officers will have to verify those claims, but I want to assure you, once you would’ve suffered losses during the flood, you will receive assistance from the government,” Minister Mustapha said.

He also told persons that the flood-relief grant is not a “per household” grant as was the case with the Covid-19 relief grant, but rather, it is intended to target those who experienced losses as a result of the recent flooding.

 I know you are anxious about receiving your relief grant because you know we’ve already rolled out this programme in other regions. Today, we are here in Region Three because we wanted to ensure the list we have was fairly accurate. On behalf of the government, I want to make it clear; this relief is not a “per household” relief; it is only intended to target those who were affected during the flood. When the President made the announcement regarding the rollout, that figure was based on the figure provided by the officers who were in charge of doing the assessment. To date, persons are still coming forward claiming losses, so we have to do another round of verification. Rest assured, once you experienced losses, you will be given relief,” Minister Mustapha said.

He also said that because farmers are finally beginning return to the land after receiving the grant, the government remains optimistic that food prices will soon decrease.

“With the onset of the floods a few months ago, and even to date, we are seeing the prices of fruits and vegetables skyrocketing. People are now beginning to return to the land because of the assistance they are receiving from the government and we remain optimistic that the prices for fruits and vegetables will soon return to normal,” Minister Mustapha noted.

While highlighting H.E. President Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali’s passion for developing Guyana’s agriculture sector, Minister Mustapha said that the government remains keen on ensuring the sector is not neglected with Guyana now being considered an emerging oil and gas producing nation.

“The agriculture sector remains one of the most important pillars in our economy. Our President is driving the agriculture agenda in CARICOM, so we have to ensure that the necessary investments are made to develop the sector. Even though we are an emerging oil and gas producing country, we don’t want to be like other oil producing countries that neglected their agriculture sector,”

Minister Mustapha also said that the government will continue to facilitate the sustainable advancement of the sector by promoting the use of shadehouses given the impacts that climate change is having on the sector, and through the construction of agro-processing facilities to encourage value-added production.

Persons who were present at Saturday’s distribution lauded the government’s efforts to help farmers return to the land.

One farmer who benefited from the grant said that the money will enable farmers like himself to move on and continue with their passion, which is farming.

“I am really thankful to the government for this initiative that they have done for us and to give us the strength to move on, more and more into farming. This will put me right back, in fact right away I will be going on Monday, to change this cheque and start buying back limestone, mole, fertilizer, seedlings and be back on it again,” the farmer said.

Another farmer suffered lost livestock during the flood, noted that in addition to her animals, many of her household items were destroyed. She said that she plans to use the grant to replace some of her household items. 

“The government is doing very well. I thankful for the little mercy that I could make use of it. I plan to buy some food stuff, buy things for the home that flood out and things that were destroyed,” she noted.

The government commenced its flood-relief grant distribution exercise in Region Three last weekend. During that exercise, residents residing in Wales, Patentia and Vive la Force on the West Bank of Demerara would’ve benefited from the ongoing exercise. 

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