Press Release – Hope restored in Nabaclis as Minister commits to conducting critical D&I works
Following a meeting earlier today with farmers from Nabaclis, Victoria and Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha has committed to ensuring critical works are carried out in the communities.
After listening to concerns raised by several farmers at the meeting, Minister Mustapha said that a team from the Ministry will return to the village soon to conduct a needs assessment of works to be done in order to determine the way forward.
“I’ve instructed our engineers from NDIA and our extension officers from NAREI, GLDA and GRDB, because I heard someone mention that rice is planted in this area, to conduct a needs assessment in the backdams and other parts of the communities so that we can develop a programme to start works in the areas. A team will be here tomorrow at 4 pm to meet with you and they will provide me with a report of what is needed and so that I can put systems in place to have these issues addressed. When these works are complete, I will come to do a follow up visit so that we can work to ensure developmental works continue,” Minister Mustapha said.
Mr. Godfrey Simpson, a farmer from Nabaclis, said that farmers are in great need of planting material to expand their production.
“We need some seeds to plant and plants that we can put in our farms. We also need a market so that our produce can be sold. We don’t want to have these perishables put down to spoil,” Mr. Simpson said.
Offering a response to Mr. Simpson’s concerns, Minister Mustapha said that since taking office he has recommenced the seed distribution programme and that farmers will be given seeds after the meeting. The Minister also informed the gathering that Government is in the process of revamping the operations of the New Guyana Marketing Corporation in order to cater to the marketing needs of farmers.
Mr. Kenrick Wickham, Chairman of the Nabaclis Water Users Association said that there is need for a portable pump and subventions for fuel to assist with farming activities in the village.
“We have a farming area that was developed through the intervention of the NDIA, but we are having excess water when it rains because we cannot drain the water into the side line because it is always high. We need a portable pump so that whenever the side line is high, we can still discharge water. We are also asking for a supplement to the Association with a 45 gallon drum of diesel every month to assist with our tractor. The dams need slashing so we are asking for the supplement to slash and maintain the dams,” Mr. Wickam said.
Minister Mustapha informed him that with the increase in the subvention the Government is giving to the Water Users Association, that body will be able to assist with the supply of fuel for the machine. He further stated that within a week, the Ministry will be setting up a committee comprising representatives from the Ministry and three persons from each village to develop a work programme to conduct works in the villages.
During the meeting, most of the farmers expressed the need for urgent drainage works in the backlands. It was reported that there needs to be some repairs to the Crown Dam koker. One farmer said that even when the koker’s doors are closed there are still breached and water seeps into the lands.
Minister Mustapha informed the farmers that while he is committed to undertaking critical works in the farmlands, major works cannot be completed within the Emergency Budget. He further stated that major works will be budgeted for in the 2021 and other subsequent budgets.
“Some of the urgent works will be undertaken this year. After the needs assessment is completed, I am hoping that within a week the NDIA can have a machine in here to commence clearing of some of these drainage canals. The major works that require large amounts of funds, we will be putting into the next budget. Things like farm to market access roads, dams and projects of that nature we will do next year,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha also informed the farmers that the Ministry’s focus is to make Guyana food secure and to increase production in order to tap into other Regional markets.
“We are now focused on ensuring Guyana remains food secure. That means we have to develop all the farming areas. We have to revive areas that were once known for their great productive capacities. Farmers are talking about the backdams and we will clear these areas for farmers to plant,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Minister also committed to increasing the extension services within these villages, adding that the agencies have to be more responsive to the needs of the farmers.