MMA-ADA to spend $170.5 million in capital works this year

The Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary- Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) has earmarked some $170.5 million for major projects this year to enhance the services provided to farmers of over 40,000 acres of paddy.

Acting General Manager, Mr. Mahendranauth Ramjit, told DPI recently that the money, which will be used for capital works, is part of the Authority’s $474.5 million allocation from the 2021 national budget.

MMA-ADA’s Acting General Manager, Mr. Mahendranauth Ramjit

With a primary focus on drainage and irrigation, Mr. Ramjit said $76 million was used to purchase two long-reach excavators to accelerate the clearing of sluggish drains and canals in the area. One of the machines has arrived, while the other will be delivered shortly.

A survey conducted by engineers to determine the elevation of the conservancy dam at Abary found that some sections are below span, which Mr. Ramjit said is a threat to overtopping during the irrigation period.

To this end, $12 million will be spent to build up the 35-mile-long conservancy dam. The conservancy is the heart of the MMA-ADA Scheme, with hundreds of farmers in the Abary-Berbice block relying on it for irrigation.

“We have a machine excavating from the main canal and capping the dam as we go along the different low areas. There is a pontoon and an excavator in the conservancy carrying out this work.

There is over 40,000 acres of rice planted in Abary-Berbice, including over 20,000 acres of pasture for cattle. There is also a portion for cash crop and other crops. So, it’s critical for this project to take place by the MMA,” the GM stated.

Another $6 million is being used to develop the main canal and embankment next to the conservancy. This is essential since it will drain water from the conservancy into the primary channel for farmers to access adequate irrigation water.

There is also a 5,000-acre block of cattle pasture for which $13.5 million was budgeted to improve drainage and irrigation.

“Next to the cattle pasture, there is the Abary flood embankment which we have budgeted $6 million for as well. So, the project is to heighten the embankment. For the past five years, no work was done in this area; you couldn’t enter there, it has bushes, the water cannot flow freely in the drains,” Mr. Ramjit added.

Meanwhile, N and S Engineering and General Construction was awarded a $32 million contract to build two bridges ─ one across the Yankee Canal in Mahaicony, and another at Basket Plimpler, an area aback of Perth Village, Mahaicony.

Mr. Ramjit said the two bridges would significantly help farmers by creating easier access to farmlands and reducing travel time, thereby lowering production cost. This also means more produce could be transported to the markets.

“Without the bridges, some farmers were forced to travel an additional four to five miles to meet their farms,” Mr. Ramjit stated.

N and S Engineering and General Construction also signed an $18 million contract to construct a check structure at Burma main drain.

“What we find is that there are some private lands on the front that don’t have adequate drainage, so when we have overtopping, there is saltwater intrusion into our land, and from there it comes into the Burma drain, and this has affected farmers for years. When the structure is in place, it will be regulated to control the salt intrusion,” Mr. Ramjit explained.

The new system is expected to benefit some 10,000 acres of farmland in that district. The contracts have a five-month duration, and contractors must execute their duties in accordance with the stated terms.

The PPP/C Government has made food security a priority since taking office and plans to expand Guyana’s agriculture sector, even as it re-designs policies for the sector.

President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has said the Government would continue to help rice farmers produce better rice yields.

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha recently announced that extension officers had been dispatched across the country to help low-yielding rice farmers enhance their production.

The Minister has commended the Guyana Rice Development Board for the initiative, noting that it will contribute to Government’s efforts to double rice production over the next five years.