Farmers, Agri Minister clash over Region 2 flooding
Agriculture Minister Noel Holder seems to be oblivious to the struggles of farmers in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) who are severely affected by the widespread flooding.
Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillor in Region Two, Hardat Narine, asserted that countless farmlands are inundated and that the subject Minister is erroneous in his claims that the residents have not suffered major losses.
Narine, in an interview with Guyana Times, expressed disappointment with the Ministry’s reaction to the flood problem which he believes is an indication of his disinterest in heeding to the plight and concerns of the people he vowed to serve.
“It’s very hurtful to hear that coming from a Minister. We visited the fields, they were flooded, pictures were taken and yet Minister Holder is denying such fact, this is unacceptable,” Narine declared.
Some of the farmers who suffered tremendous losses hailed from Hampton Court, Devonshire Castle, Walton Hall, Windsor Castle and Lima Sands areas. The Councillor reported that over 2500 acres of rice is currently under threat in those areas alone.
He is urging the Minister to visit the communities to see for himself the disaster that his struck the region and to offer immediate assistance to the farmers.
Minister Holder maintains that there have not been any major losses in the farming community in Region Two.
According to the Minister, there were less than 11,000 hectares of rice cultivated so far, of which 1608 hectares were under excess water, while 1055 hectares were under real threat. However, information available from the rice export board shows there were no losses incurred.
Providing further figures, Holder reported that farmers in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) sowed 6700 hectares of rice. Of that 1700 inundated and 1700 hectares under threat. In Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), a total of 3500 hectares sown, of which 156 hectares is under threat, with no losses. In the Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) areas there were 31,000 hectares sown, with 6100 hectares under threat. In Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) some 15,276 hectares were sown with 140 hectares inundated, however no losses.
Meanwhile, the Minister said one solution to the excess flooding in some communities is improvement in the outfall channels.
This can be done by the installation of groynes at these channels. A groyne is a rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore (in coastal engineering) or from a bank (in rivers) that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment. It is usually made out of wood, concrete or stone.
Holder said too that one of the problems the Ministry faces is the clearance of the outfall channels from sluices.
“They get silted up very rapidly because of the tidal flow. The solution is to install groynes. Currently we are cleaning channels during the wet season. But if we have those groynes and we are currently in talks with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, because the responsibility of sea defences lie with that Ministry.” He said if the channels could be cleared, then the drainage canals could be drained to a lower level and we could catch the water that run-off.
He said his Ministry also plans to purchase a dredger this year, which will allow for cleaning the outfall channels and groynes. The dredge will also be able to clean the outfall channels of the Pomeroon River.
Further, the Regional Democratic Council recently expressed deep concerns about the general lack of interest and slow response by the Government regarding the floods in the region.