Region Three farmers hail Gov’t’s flood relief grant

Farmers from several villages in Region Three, Essequibo Islands/West Demerara, have benefitted from the Government’s flood relief grant, implemented to assist farmers who suffered losses due to the nationwide flooding earlier this year.

The initiative which is the brain child of President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, was on Saturday, spearheaded by Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, at the Wales Secondary, Patentia Secondary and Vive -La -Force Primary schools.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP at the Vive La Force Primary School, West Bank Demerara

Minister Mustapha, while addressing the farmers, alluded to the Government’s promises that have been fulfilled during its first year in office.

“We know for a fact that one year ago when we took over government, people were suffering tremendously. That is why we started out with a cash relief for the Covid grant.  Firstly, every household, $25,000, and then eventually every family. Then we reintroduced the cash grant for school children.  We have increased it from $10,000 to $15,000. We increased the school uniform vouchers from $2,000 to $4,000 and the President recently extended that to private school students. So, all the students attending school in our country will receive $19,000.”

The Agriculture Minister also spoke of recent initiatives by the government that target specific groups.

“The President announced a few weeks ago, another $2.6 billion for the vulnerable groups. Pensioners receive one-month free pension, those people receiving public assistance will receive $25,000 and those people who are on the national grid and burn less than 75 kilowatts [electricity] per month, will have one month [for] light bill. Those are the investments that we are talking about.”

The one-off grant for pensioners is currently being distributed at various locations countrywide.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP handing over a flood relief cheque to a farmer at the Wales Secondary School, West Bank Demerara.

The Minister also pointed to the Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo’s recent promise to sugar workers who lost their jobs. He said each worker will receive a sum of $250,000.

“Two days ago, the Vice President was right here at Wales, he came to fulfil the promise that was made before the election, that sugar workers whose jobs were terminated, will receive $250,000. That will amount to another $1.8 billion.”

The distribution at the different schools saw scores of farmers turning out to uplift their grants. DPI spoke with several farmers who expressed their views on the initiative.

Roger Carrell, who found his passion in farming at 10 years old, said the grant will assist him greatly.

“I am really thankful to the government for this initiative that they have done for us and to give us the strength to move on, more and more into farming. This will put me right back, in fact right away I will be going on Monday, to change this cheque and start buying back limestone, mole, fertiliser, seedlings and be back on it again.

“We want to work with the government, we and the government must be one, we must work together and build our country, build our community and this is what I am looking for. Our people, we must work together and move on,” Carrell said.

Nehola Gulliver, a farmer and member of the Goed Intent Sisters Agricultural Association, which benefitted from the assistance, noted that, “This was a very good initiative; we have all lost and at least we will get to put it back into continuing our farming. I must say I am very, very thankful on behalf of the entire association for this initiative and it will help us to continue doing what we do.”

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP handing over the flood relief cheque to a farmer at the Vive La Force Primary School, West Bank Demerara

Ramdai Rattan, a poultry farmer whose livestock and household items were lost due to the flooding, said the money will be used to replace some items.  

“The government is doing very well. I thankful for the little mercy that I could make use of it. I plan to buy some food stuff, buy things for the home that flood out and things that were destroyed,” she noted.

Other farmers who suffered losses but have not yet received their grants were advised to provide their names to their Neighbourhood Democratic Council or to a National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute officer in the region.

On Friday farmers of Hogg Island who were affected by the flood received their food relief grants.

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