2000 acres of rice in danger as GuySuCo shuts off water

Some 20 farmers on the East Coast of Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) are in urgent need of water for their rice fields, which are now cracking.
Guyana Times has been informed that the farmers’ plight is as a result of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) shutting off the water supply.

Manoj Singh showing the cracks in his rice field

An estimated 2000 acres of rice are now threatened and some have already been lost. The farmers have been relying on rainfall to start the crop but now that the season has changed and GuySuCo has shut off the water it normally supplies them, they are in deep trouble to save their crop.
This publication was told by several farmers that they have an arrangement where they pay the sugar company $500 per acre to have water supplied to them. However, three weeks ago, the canal which takes water to the East Coast Berbice farmers was closed putting all of the crops between Bolam and Palmyra in jeopardy.
In desperation, many of the farmers have sought to pump water from the canals into their rice fields but the canals have insufficient water. GuySuCo has locked in the water claiming that they need it for the cane fields.
Manoj Singh of Don Robin Farm, a village which depends heavily on rice cultivation, told Guyana Times that they have approached GuySuCo in the issue.
“Yesterday [Thursday] we went into a meeting and they promise to release the water yesterday and unto now no water,” he related on Friday afternoon.
Up to press time, there was no indication that GuySuCo had reopened the canal.
Singh, who cultivates 60 acres of rice, said they have also contacted the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and was hoping that with their intervention the water would have been released to the farmlands on Thursday but even with the agency’s intervention, GuySuCo continue to hold on to its water.
Meanwhile, the fields continue to dry up. Many of the farmers have already invested millions of dollars into the crop which started late December in the height of the rainy season.
They say at this stage, quick action by GuySuCo could save them millions if they are able to break even.
Cultivated rice is extremely sensitive to water shortages, especially at the flowering stage. A flooded field helps ensure plant survival and helps to control weeds. Flooding supposedly conserves soil organic elements and may receive nitrogen and other essential nutrients from biological sources. (Andrew Carmichael)