Billion-dollar farm-to-market road for Corentyne to Canje Creek
-to unlock new agriculture lands
Farmers and other stakeholders in the East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) will soon benefit from a $1 billion all-weather access road, linking the Corentyne Coast to the Canje Creek and opening new opportunities in the agriculture sector there.
Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill on Saturday led a team of engineers, regional officials and farmers to inspect the road alignment, which begins at Number 52 Village, Corentyne, and runs for 23 kilometres to the Canje Creek area.
The road work is expected to continue from where the dam ends and extend to Canje Creek.
Minister Edghill then ventured into the backlands of Number 58 Village to inspect the alignment for another possible roadway to Canje Creek. That alignment measures 10 kilometres and ends at the Seaforth Canal.
Speaking with media representatives on the ground, Minister Edghill said, “the intent is that we want to open a road that will eventually give us access to new lands for the expansion of agriculture, cattle farming and any other land use that will catapult Guyana’s development.”
He said the decision to construct the road from either Number 52 or Number 58 village would depend on which option leads to more land use.
“Farmers, citizens must be able to get access to new lands so that we don’t have to be contested. We don’t want the cattle in the rice lands. That has been a historical problem and a nuisance,” he explained.
If the road is built at Number 58 Village, Minister Edghill said it would be “a costly exercise” since that option requires construction in swampland along with several bridges.
Bishop Edghill said the project would enhance everyone’s quality of life and that the long-term plan is to build a bridge across the Canje Creek from the point where the road would end.
Meanwhile, Minister Edghill lauded the Agriculture Ministry’s work, which has helped rice farmers increase their crop yield. The road, he said, would ramp up the cultivation of a wide range of crops and position Guyana to realise its potential as the breadbasket of the Caribbean.
Several rice farmers at the exercise commended the Government for prioritising the project.
Mr. Dhamiram Persaud, who began rice cultivation in the Number 52 area in 2005, said the roadworks would transform the mud dam that is ravaged during rainy seasons.
He is one of 30 members of the Upper Corentyne Youth Farmers’ Cooperative Society, who depend on the dam to access farmlands. While the society has some 3,300 acres of land, 300 acres are underdeveloped due to the difficulties farmers have in traversing the area.
Another farmer, Mr. Haimraj Babulall, who cultivates 200 acres of rice lands, said the road would allow farmers to explore growing other crops.
“If we get the road to come in and out, we can do more farming. We can do cash crop farming … There is a lot more we can do,” he said.
Mr. Babulall believes that more investments equal more jobs for farmworkers, as he also plans to start a coconut farm and branch out into fishing. The farmer relayed that the current state of the road hampers the rice industry.
“When rain falls, then you struggle like hell… If you get the access road, the all-weather road here, then everything will be okay.”
For Mr. Sewnarine Hardeen, the ease of access to existing lands would allow rice farmers to realise their true potential.
He said he had planned to reap two rice crops, but the dam’s deplorable state resulted in him only reaping one harvest and sustaining significant financial losses.
The exercise is one step in realising the establishment of the road link announced in budget 2021. Some $23.7 billion has been allocated for road construction this year.