Agri Ministry seeks $530.5M for agriculture projects
Under the Rural Agriculture Infrastructure Development and the Flood Risk Management Projects, the Agriculture Ministry is asking for some 0.5 million in additional funds outside of what was granted in the 2017 Budget.
This was revealed when Finance Minister Winston Jordan laid Government’s financial paper Number Two in the National Assembly on Thursday. The proposed allocations for the Agriculture Ministry form part of the schedule of supplementary provisions totalling .5 billion for January to December 2017.
Under line item two of Section B of the Capital Estimates, the sum of 0 million is being sought for the flood risk management project. In its financial paper, Government explained that the fast tracking of works necessitated additional funds being sought.
The paper detailed its request for more money under the World Bank’s International Development Association loan to complete three pump stations at Lusignan, Buxton/Vigilance and Hope/Enmore, East Coast Demerara (ECD). According to the Government, the money is also to continue rehabilitation works on the access dam for the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC).
Government is optimistic that the three pump stations will provide improved flood relief to thousands of residents on the ECD corridor. During a press conference earlier this year, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder had promised that 2017 would see an emergency preparedness plan for the EDWC being operationalised.
Farmers and residents along Guyana’s coastlands were left counting their losses in June 2017, when heavy rainfall left them inundated. Such were the floods that schools had to be closed. The situation had prompted emergency measures from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).
Meanwhile, some $180.5 million was sought by the Ministry for its Rural Agriculture Infrastructure Development (RAID) project. In the financial paper, the Ministry detailed what use it made of its previous budget allocation.
Government is also seeking the additional money to hire a supervising consultant for the project. It also explained that more money was needed for rehabilitating the pump station at Mocha, East Bank Demerara (EBD), because “the pace of implementation has increased”.
The RAID project is one which targets farmers within Co-ops in various villages. The Agriculture Ministry is expected to not only assist in the clearing but also training in the areas of crop production. There had been complaints that poor drainage and irrigation greatly hinder agricultural development in the backlands. The Guyana Marketing Corporation had also said farmers in the community are hindered from producing marketable amounts owing to failures in the drainage system.
In a recent interview with Guyana Times, Holder had provided an update on the Regions Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and Five (Mahaica-Berbice) villages that are benefiting from a US$3.8 million grant. The grant was awarded late last year by the Caricom Development Fund (CDF) to facilitate infrastructural improvement in targeted small-scale farming communities.
The Agriculture Minister related that the first phase of the agricultural land development project was underway in the villages of: Mocha Arcadia, EBD; Beterverwagting (BV)/Triumph and Buxton, ECD, and Ithaca, West Coast Berbice (WCB). These were seen as having been “neglected” over time.
This publication was told of some “60 acres” of land that was being cleared in the Buxton backlands to facilitate farming.
Holder also indicated that while the majority of the funding would come from the multimillion-dollar grant, some 20 per cent of public funds would be sourced to facilitate such services as local staffing.