Canal No 1 farmers buckle as floods wipe out hundreds of livestock, crops
Stagnant floodwaters for several days at Canal Number One Polder, West Bank Demerara, has left farmers up in arms, with no option but to count millions of dollars in losses as livestock and crops perish.
On Tuesday, Guyana Times visited the affected community, where the plight of affected persons stemmed from poor drainage management and heavy rainfall. As the water fails to recede, many crops and animals are slowly succumbing to the cold and wet environment – a detriment for farmers and their investments.
Gitendra Ketwaroo, who rears livestock for a living, was overwhelmed that his livelihood has been severely impacted. With almost 300 chickens already dead, another few hundred are suffering from hypothermia and need higher, warmer ground to survive.
Since last week, his lands were inundated by heavy rainfall but the situation escalated this week as the water rose higher. Ketwaroo said the water started rising since last week and efforts were made to secure the livestock. But the rainfall persisted and now the land has been covered in over a foot of water for over two days.
“All my chicken dying. Two pens with 1200 chicken and by this time this water go down, I don’t know what I going to get. Right now, I don’t know who will help me…This flooding nearly start about week but wasn’t so high. It come around the pen but two days now, the water go in. I blocked the water and bail the water but it was coming in,” he noted.
He is more concerned that his investment of $4 million to build the existing infrastructure and hundreds of chicks. Since January, all of his resources were injected into this project, for which he is yet to receive a profit. The 51-year-old was hoping to sell some of his livestock soon.
“I put down the foundation, buy the chicken, buy the feed to grow them so big and watch what happen to me. I had to put zinc so that they (the chickens) can go there but they’re not going. They catching cramp and just lie there. That’s my last money that I invest…The water ain’t moving,” the distraught man highlighted.
Meanwhile, another farmer complained that he has already lost over 4000 citrus fruits, all intended for the local market. Tangerines, limes and oranges are submerged in floodwaters and are not salvageable.
Residents told this newscast that the canal was plagued with moss, which is affecting drainage. There are other drainage concerns as it relates to the sluice. After the flooding, then some effort was made to ease the situation. However, persons in the community have noted that the moss needs to be removed.
Kowsilla Mohabir detailed, “A couple days now, the rain started to fall and this water started to rise up till under the house. I don’t know how long this will take to drain. I don’t know the reason why the water is not moving. I live alone and there is no one to assist me to move nothing…In 2005, it was bad and they had to dig both sides of the canal to take the moss out. At the conservancy dam, I would like to see what is going with people there. They’re really feeling it more than us.”
“If you know the moss is blocking the water, the Council was supposed to get people to clean the moss. When the place flood, then they get tractor and so to clean. How can you see when the water high? When the water drop, then you would see what’s going on in the trench…If the trench was clean, water could’ve draw off the land. They wait till the place flood to clean,” Ketwaroo added.
Affected farmers are calling for authorities to intervene and provide some sort of relief or compensation to cushion their losses. For them, it will take a while to recover after the waters recede, especially in the financial aspect.
Canal Number One is among scores of villages to be affected by floods caused by high tides and intense rainfall within the past two weeks. In conjunction with the Civil Defence Commission and civil society, officials have been reaching out to communities to offer relief and lend support. (Rupa Seenaraine)