Clearing of drains, farm upgrades, agri. seminars among interventions planned for lower Pomeroon

pilot project for coffee, cocoa also announced

Farmers from villages in the lower Pomeroon area in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) will soon benefit from a series of projects intended to significantly improve drainage and agricultural productivity within the farming communities.

During an outreach to Wakapoa, Hackney, and Marlborough, on Friday, Agriculture Minister, Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha disclosed that the ministry through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) will soon commence a massive blocked drainage programme in four areas in the lower Pomeroon.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

The minister’s visit came just days after His Excellency, President Dr. Irfaan Ali visited the area and met with flood-affected farmers. Minister Mustapha had accompanied the Head of State and promised farmers to return to the villages on Friday.

During Friday’s visit, farmers were again allowed to raise issues that were affecting them. Many farmers said that the main issue was the flooding due to heavy and constant rainfall.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while engaging a senior citizen from Hackney

While responding to the farmers’ concerns, Minister Mustapha said the NDIA will commence the blocked drainage programme in the lower Pomeroon area to assist with minimising flooding.

“The burning issue here is drainage. This area is very vulnerable to flooding, more so, now with climate change which has resulted in extended rainy periods. When the President visited you made several requests and it was decided that we will do the block drainage. We need you to identify the four areas where you want us to do it and we’ll do it. In addition to that, farmers with small plots; five and ten acres; we’ll develop a database after which work will be done to lift the level of your farmlands. In the long term, we’ll be building two large pump stations; one at Charity and the other at Cozier. The primary dredging works have already started in the Pomeroon River. The preparation is being done now. As soon as that is completed, the contractor will bring the larger dredge to dredge the river so that you can have better drainage,” Minister Mustapha said.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while addressing farmers from Marlborough

During the President’s visit last Tuesday, a farmers’ group from the area also sought assistance with repairing two machines that are used to assist farmers in the area. Minister Mustapha said that the ministry will assist with repairing the two machines that are currently inoperable so that the farmers can benefit. These machines, he added, will also be used to assist with the farm enhancement project targeting small-scale farmers.

While addressing concerns raised by cash crop farmers, Minister Mustapha said that farmers from the lower Pomeroon will soon benefit from an introductory training exercise on best practices and farming techniques. This, he added, will see extension staff from NAREI and the GLDA hosting seminars to educate farmers on budding, apiculture, and other agriculture-related areas. This exercise is expected to commence within the next two weeks.  

A farmer from Wakapoa while raising an issue during the meeting

Farmers were also assured that planting materials such as seeds and seedlings, as well as Acoushi Ants bait, will be made available to them free of cost from the ministry. Minister Mustapha also informed that NAREI will set up a small plant nursery at Wakapoa so that farmers can also benefit from better access to planting materials.

He disclosed that farming tools such as spray cans, tillers, and a fogging machine among other items will be given to farmers from the area.

As it relates to livestock, Minister Mustapha said farmers from each of the three villages will receive Black Giant chicks to assist with developing their poultry production. He further disclosed that, through the GLDA, the agricultural science department at the Wakapoa Secondary will benefit from Black Giant chicks and other inputs to assist students who are writing Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams, to do the practical aspect of their School Based Assignments (SBAs). 

With the government looking to expand on the cultivation of non-traditional products, Minister Mustapha told farmers that the ministry will soon begin a pilot project for the cultivation of coffee and cocoa in the area.

“We recognise the importance of the Pomeroon in terms of agriculture. This is why we’ve partnered with IICA to restart the cultivation of coffee and cocoa in the Pomeroon. We’ll make those plants available for free, and we’ll work with the farmers to develop the plots so that farmers in the Pomeroon can once again be the producers of coffee and cocoa in Guyana. This programme should commence within another month,” he noted.