“Cash grant should not be seen as compensation but as a form of assistance to return to the land”

Minister Mustapha tells Region Five farmers during flood-relief grant distribution exercise

On Friday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha spearheaded the government’s ongoing flood-relief cash grant distribution exercise in Region Five, Mahaica-Berbice.

Farmers who suffered losses in rice, cash-crop, and livestock during the extended rainy period which resulted in instances of flooding across the country, are currently benefiting from the government’s $7.6 billion relief programme.

Following the flood, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced that after an extensive assessment, farmers would benefit from some form of government assistance. The Head of State later disclosed that the government would be rolling out a $7.6 billion flood-relief programme that would see affected farmers and households receiving a direct cash injection.

Speaking with media operatives on the sideline of the distribution exercise at the Bushlot Community Center Ground, Minister Mustapha said that over 6,000 farmers in Region Five benefited from the ongoing relief exercise.

“Today, we have seven flood-relief centers set up across the region where myself and other Ministers of Government are spearheading distribution exercises. Region Five is one of the regions that were most affected. It had one of the largest payouts with approximately $1.2 billion being given to deserving farmers and households. This region is one of the most important regions in terms of agriculture with over 6000 farmers benefiting from this initiative,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha also said that the initiative will soon be rolled out in the other affected regions.

“After today’s exercise, we only have the complete mapping in this region. Farmers who were not on the list, once our officers can verify their claims, will be given relief. We’ll continue the second phase in Region Six in another week from now. We started in the Pomeroon in Region Two last weekend, and this Saturday we’ll be going to Region Ten to continue distribution there. Soon we’ll begin the rollout in the other regions that were affected like Regions One, Three, Four, Seven, Eight, and Nine. As we move through the process, we are having fewer issues. I want to reiterate the point that I made when I said if there was anyone who should not benefit from the cash grant, we will investigate once the persons making the allegations provide us with some form of evidence,” Minister Mustapha said.

Farmers who were present and benefited from the payout said that the grant will assist them with returning to the land.

Patrica Fletcher, a resident of Seafield, said that her kitchen garden was destroyed during the flood and expressed gratitude to the government for the grant she received.  

“I am happy that I was able to get help with this flood relief because I lost a lot during the May-June flood in the rainy season. I have my kitchen garden because I like to have natural foods for me and my family. I lost some tomatoes, callaloo, bora, and a lot of other things. I’m very happy with what the government is doing because it will help me to go back to the land and start back my kitchen garden and I’m looking forward to the continuous help because I know that the government and the Minister will continue to help us,” the farmer said. 

Virgil Watts, a rice farmer who was present at the Bushlot distribution site, also expressed gratitude to the government for the grant.

“It will assist me greatly with going back to the land and into rice farming again. Thanks to His Excellency, the President, and his entire team for making this possible,” the farmer said.

In addition to the cash grant, farmers also stand to benefit from seeds, seedlings, seed paddy, and other planting and genetic material for cash-crop, livestock, and rice.