La Harmonie residents to benefit from immediate drainage works, household solar units

Persons residing in La Harmonie, on the West Bank of Demerara will soon benefit from a number of government interventions aimed at improving farming and life in general in the community.

During a visit to the riverine community along the Demerara River, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha told residents that within another week, the community will benefit from much needed drainage works.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

“We will look at the road but the most important thing for you, as it stands now, is ensuring you have proper drainage. Within a week from now, we’ll send in a machine to do all the main cross drains as well as the seepage canal. In the meantime, we’ll be looking at the road and so that we can come up with an estimate because this road will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. We have to do that project in phases. We first have to get the drainage done, so the machine will work along the road to ensure all the drains are cleared and that we fill all the low spots first. After that is done, engineers from both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Public Works will come to do an assessment of the road so that the initial cost of moving it from its current state to the next phase can be determined,” Minister Mustapha disclosed.

He also said that a team of extension officers from the various agencies will be returning to meet with the farmers to advise them on best practices and doing agriculture in a smarter way given the effects climate change is having on traditional agricultural practices.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar, who accompanied Minister Mustapha to the meeting, also told residents that each house in the community will soon benefit from household solar units after requests were made for electricity in the community.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar

“For us to put a substation, install transmission lines, and a generator, it will be a costly affair based on how the houses are situated. What we did, our government has embarked on getting household solar units for riverine communities. We started it a couple of months ago. Since we got into government we met with the Indian Government and they were funding the solar initiative. So, its 30,000 solar units that can be installed on any house. They can power lights and even refrigerators. Its not the small units that they did in the past. That has been approved and we will sign the agreement soon. This is being done through a Line of Credit. Once that is done, we will bring them and install them on every house in the community. So, you will get electricity but it will be through these solar units,” Minister Indar said.

Minister Mustapha while addressing the gathering at the meeting

Residents noted that with the closure of the Wales Estate under the previous administration, many persons found it hard to sustain their families and have since left the community. Those who remained were left at a disadvantage and turned to farming to maintain their families.

Cleudigs Charles, a farmer, said that he was happy with the visit and sought the assistance of the ministers with providing the necessary machinery to help them to expand their production.

“Today I’m very happy. It’s the first time in my life that a Minister of Agriculture has come to this area to see the plight of farmers. This area is all about agriculture. First, everyone used to plant cane and after the estate closed everyone working with farmers but we have some disadvantages that the government can help us with. We’re asking the Minister if he can provide the community with two new tractors with implements to assist the farmers. Most persons are doing plantains but the rains came and destroyed the crops but we want to do some ginger. We have some high areas where we can go into some ginger and other things like pineapple but we have to plough the land,” the farmer said.

A farmer raising an issue

Annand Singh, another farmer who was at the meeting sought the assistance of the ministers with helping him to gain access to machines that are already in the community and managed by the community’s Co-op Society.

“There are some motor blowers and a tractor and when I went to ask to use it they told me I’m not a apart of the Co-op, whichin the society was merged with the farmers and when you go to use the equipment they are telling you that the society did not merge. We left the cane farming but we were still farming. Right now, I have a set of orange trees and due to the flood, the ants gone up in it and build nests and I can’t clean them. That’s why I ask for the motor blower to assist with cleaning them but they had to leff just so,” the farmer explained. 

After listening to the farmer, Minister Mustapha told residents that officers from the Ministry will investigate the matter.

Another farmer raising an issue

Minister Mustapha told residents that the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali-led government is committed to ensuring every community benefits from equal development and that persons, in general, have better living standards and access to resources.

“Over the last year, Guyanese have benefited from several direct cash transfers. Although we’ve made all these cash transfers, reduced taxes, abolished VAT on a number of important commodities, we have not used any of the money from the oil and gas funds. While as a government, we are working to improve the standard of living and infrastructure in the community, we have to ensure every community in the country receives the same level of development. As a government we have to ensure that we properly manage and distribute the country’s resources effectively so that every Guyanese benefits,” Minister Mustapha said.