Construction of sluice at Highbury to commence this year – Min. Mustapha
Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha on Saturday revealed that his ministry through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) will commence construction of a sluice at Highbury on the East Bank of the Berbice River.
The minister made this disclosure during a meeting with residents and farmers from Korthberaadt and other surrounding communities who expressed that there was an urgent need for the drainage and irrigation structure as many of them are constantly affected by flooding.
Minister Mustapha said that although he could not give a time frame on when the project would commence as it was not budgeted for, he assured farmers that it would be before the end of the year.
“The farmers spoke about the sluice. I want to assure you that it will start this year. I can’t say if we’ll be able to complete it because it wasn’t on the programme for this year, but we’ll start it. I’ll engage the NDIA to draft the bills and the do the design and we’ll see how soon we can get it done. The engineer said that it will cost roughly $30 million, so we’ll make funds available to see how we can get it done,” he noted.
While responding to requests for land clearing for agriculture and clearing of drains, Minister Mustapha said that those works have to be done in a systematic way. He advised that a committee comprising representatives from the various communities as well as engineers from the NDIA and regional officials be formed to develop a programme to guide the works.
On two other occasions, Minister Mustapha also met with farmers and residents from Albion and Auchlyne to discuss issues faced and advances made to develop the sector over the last three years.
While at Auchlyne, Minister Mustapha told the farmers that budgetary allocations for the agriculture sector have increased over the past three years to ensure farmers benefit from improved infrastructure such as drainage channels, pump stations, sluices, dams, and farm-to-market roads.
“In less than three years, this government has fulfilled almost all the promises made to the people of this country when we went to the election. As it relates to the agriculture sector, we’ve increased budgetary allocation by 150% from 2020 to now so that more funds can be made available to help our farmers. Only recently we went to the Parliament for funds to commence construction of massive drainage and irrigation structures similar to the Hope Canal. We’ll build one in Region Six because as many of you are aware over the years, our farmers have suffered a lot as a result of flooding. I also want to let you know that for the first time in history, we are discussing at a regional level, setting up farmers’ insurance so that you can be compensated if you are devastated by flooding,” the minister explained.
Meanwhile, at Albion, Minister Mustapha distributed several pieces of farming tools and implements to approximately sixty farmers valuing some $1,000,000. This, he noted, formed part of the overall developmental agenda for the sector as the government moves towards equipping farmers in order to expand their productive capacities.
While addressing the gathering, Minister Mustapha said that agriculture remains one of the most important sectors in the country as it ensures food and nutrition security. As such, the minister said that the government will continue to assist farmers with inputs to develop their production and the sector as a whole. He said that Guyana is now leading the agriculture agenda in CARICOM and that the government was working to assist every farmer with upping their production.
Farmers present walked away with small farming tools such as water pumps, spray cans, shovels, cutlasses, forks, and files as well as inputs such as seeds.