The 35-acre, $200 million model farm at Fort Wellington, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) is a waste of taxpayers’ money according to Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal, who further said that there is nothing to show how the money was spent.
Ramphal told Guyana Times that the model farm is in a deplorable state and that nothing of substance was done there.
“This land is actually in an abandon stage whereby it is filled with bush and overgrowth. It is clearly showing the wasteful spending of taxpayers’ money,” the Regional Chairman said.
To date, he added, there are no records to prove that any produce actually came out of the model farm although Regional Executive Officer (REO) Ovid Morrison had some time back displayed some vegetables he claimed to have been cultivated at the farm.
In the past, the land was occupied and operated by farmers until the REO had ordered their removal so that the area could be developed into a model farm, Ramphal said.
On October 27, 2016, notices were placed at the entrances to the farms situated at Naarstigheid and Catherine’s Lust, denying the farmers access to their farms.
The farmers had occupied 50 acres of land and cultivated primarily cash crops, fruits and reared livestock.
However, on January 9, 2018, Morrison stated that the model farm will address land selection, crop cultivation, and principles of crop rotation, as well as waste consolidation but the Chairman held out that it is a political move to get rid of the farmers.
However, after almost two years, the Regional Chairman said the money was wasted.
“And it is not benefiting a single citizen. Instead of the Government giving this person so much money to spend on a farm to just cultivate some cash crops, we could have used that money to build a state-of-the-art market on that prime residential location there which could have benefited our youths tremendously,” Ramphal noted.
Back in 2017 when the idea was first brought to the Region Five RDC, the Council was supposed to give its blessings to the project before it was executed but the RDC never approved it. Nevertheless, the REO went ahead with the project as his own.
The crops owned by those farmers were bulldozed and the farmers had asked the RDC to intervene but were told that it was all the REO’s doing without getting approval from the RDC.
Several letters were dispatched to Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan and the Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder but the farmers are still awaiting a response.