‘Gov’t remains committed to addressing the needs of our farmers’ – Minister Mustapha

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to addressing the needs of farmers even as many farming areas across the country remain inundated.

The Minister made these comments while meeting farmers from Moleson Creek, Crabwood Creek, Skeldon and Bush Lot, Corentyne on Saturday.

Minister Mustapha engaging a group of farmers

During his engagements, Minister Mustapha told flood-affected persons the Government will ensure the necessary assistance is provided so that they can return to the land.  He said more aid would be given when the waters have receded.

“We are experiencing a national disaster. Over the last few weeks, we’ve experienced unprecedented rainfall. This is the first time in our country’s history we are experiencing this type of flooding.

We’ve had major floods before but when you look around today, this flood is far more devastating than those experienced in the past because all the regions in our country have been affected. The water might have receded in a number of residential areas, but in the back lands, the water level is still high. Persons lost cash crops, rice, livestock and they need help,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha while engaing a farmer

The Minister also said the Government has approached its disaster relief efforts in a phased manner, prioritising human safety.

“We are now approaching this disaster in a phased approach. As a Government, the most important thing for us to do now is to ensure people have food, medical supplies, and water to drink.

The Ministry has also been working with livestock farmers across the country. Feed and veterinary services are being offered free of charge to those who were affected. Farmers are also given assistance to move their cattle from flooded areas in the back lands to higher ground,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Guyana Livestock Development Authority has been offering additional services to affected farmers. Farmers who have yet to benefit are encouraged to inform their regional extension officer.

While farmers from Moleson Creek complimented the Ministry’s efforts in executing much-needed drainage works in the area, requests were made for a machine to return there to complete the additional works. Requests were also made for the Ministry to hire temporary sluice attendants as farmers would often have to operate the structures themselves.

A resident from Molsen Creek raising an issue

Minister Mustapha told residents that all of the machines are currently deployed to several flood-affected regions. However, he pledged to send one back to complete the works as soon as it becomes available. He also committed to ensuring sluice attendants are placed at the structures in the area.

Over in Crabwood Creek, residents said although the Minister and Government had given certain directives, officials from the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Water Users’ Association (WUA) have not been working in the best interest of the residents. Several residents voiced concerns about the non-responsiveness of some of the staff at the NDC. They also said the overseer was negligent in executing his duties.

Minister Mustapha advised residents to write to the relevant body to have their issues with the NDCs addressed. He also told residents that he would ask the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development to meet with them. As it relates to issues with the WUA, Minister Mustapha told residents that his Ministry would launch an investigation.   

Meanwhile, farmers from Bush Lot said they were satisfied with the services being administered by the crop and livestock departments. Farmers complained that they are yet to receive the much-needed veterinary services being offered and also sought the assistance of the Minister with having a number of drains desilted.

The subject Minister said that he was not satisfied with the level of service being offered by some of the extension officers in the Region and told the respective heads of departments to ensure those in need receive assistance. He added that there were over 50 extension officers in the Region so persons shouldn’t be complaining about not being served.