East Bank Berbice villages plagued by limited access to irrigation water

Agriculture Minister Noel Holder on Friday said that the Ministry will be focusing a significant amount of resources at returning agriculture lands along the East Bank of Berbice to full production.

Corn under threat as a result of dry weather at Mara, East Bank Berbice

The Minister’s comment was made while visiting the East Bank Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) communities beginning at Mara, some 25 miles from New Amsterdam.
Commenting on the overgrown and obviously neglected lands there, he said the once thriving rice farming area no longer produces rice because of bad yields as a result of the soil type in the area.
According to the Minister, the development of advanced soil management techniques by the Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB) Research Station at Burma, can result in trials to be conducted in the area, with a view to having rice cultivation restarted.
Meanwhile, at two other communities along the East Bank, Kothbraat and Rotterdam, Minister Holder was shown the investments being made in rice cultivation by a re-migrant who has invested millions of dollars in clearing nearly 7000 acres of lands of which 400 acres is cultivated.
However, those villages being plagued with limited access to water for irrigation was among issues raised by farmers who also indicated satisfaction with the help they have been receiving.
In recent months, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has been assisting by excavating a main canal which should be able to provide water to some 400 acres of rice under threat.
Holder noted that the NDIA is also engaged in a major project aimed at expanding the viability of all agricultural lands spanning the area from Vryheid in West Canje to Mara.
“This is being realised through the rehabilitation of what is referred to as the crown dam which, when completed, will protect some 10,000 acres of fertile agriculture lands from flooding,” he explained.
In an invited comment, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NDIA, Fredrick Flatts, said there is vast potential for revitalisation of agriculture along the East Bank of Berbice corridor.
However, this will only be realised if there is substantial investment in drainage and irrigation structures there.
He estimates an initial outlay of approximately $30 million would go a long way in ensuring that the agriculture potential of the East Bank corridor is maximised.