Following community outreaches in Buxton and Nabaclis on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, works have been carried out and completed to improve drainage in the villages.
On Monday, the Ministry in a statement said that residents of Buxton had complained bitterly to the Minister about the need for critical drainage work, during his visit last month. Now, however, 80 per cent of the works has been completed, with the outstanding works expected to commence within the next few days.
Chairman of the Buxton/Friendship Grantees Corp Society, Leroy Hamer was quoted by the Ministry’s release as saying that residents of Buxton are already experiencing relief following the meeting with the Minister.
“When the Minister was here with his team, we asked for the Friendship Middle Walk and the Friendship East and West Sidelines to be cleared. Today I can say that works on the Middle Walk and the East Sideline were completed. The works were done in a timely manner even with the current weather and because of that we have not experienced any flooding, even with the heavy rains that are falling. I want to thank the Minister for being a man of his word,” Hamer said.
Last month, Minister Mustapha also met with residents of Belladrum in Mahaica-Berbice to listen to some of the issues affecting them. During the meeting, it was disclosed that among the issues raised, drainage and irrigation was of major concern to the residents. Villagers told the Minister that the lack of drainage works in the community over the years was beginning to pose a threat to the health of the young children in the village.
Mustapha had asked officials from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to put systems in place to have works carried out on a number of drains and canals in the area. The NDIA has since been able to deploy the requisite resources to commence critical works on the main drainage canal, which is over 3.4 miles long.
According to the Ministry, close to $2 million has been expended on works in the village and its environs which will assist with drainage and irrigation of over 1000 acres of farmlands. Belladrum NDC Chairman, Emile Wilson was quoted expressing delight that the meeting resulted in works being done in such a timely manner.
President of the Emanuel Foundation, Ivanho Gravesande, during the meeting, indicated that there was need for some shade house materials to assist with the rehabilitation of a shade house project in the Golden Fleece area.
Minister Mustapha committed to assisting the group with materials and seedlings to resuscitate their shade house. The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) recently acquired a quantity of shade house materials under its “Smart Agriculture Initiative” and, in the coming days, will hand over some materials and seedlings to the group to assist with the resuscitation of the community shade house.
Furthermore, it was explained that NAREI’s Regional Coordinator for Region Five has been meeting with farmers and other members of the community, offering technical advice on shade house best practices in the lead up to them receiving the promised materials and seedlings.
Meanwhile, following meetings with farmers from Nabaclis, Mustapha also made good on a promise for the Ministry to commence a needs assessment to determine the magnitude of works necessary to bring relief to residents and farmers in the village.
Following the meeting, a team comprising research and extension officers from NAREI returned to the village and met with farmers to determine a plan of action as it relates to their cultivation practices and how the agency can assist. Additionally, an engineer from NDIA will be meeting with members of the Nabaclis Water Users Association to develop an assessment report of works to be carried out.
Once the assessment is complete, NDIA will commence works to areas in need of critical and urgent drainage works. Chairman of the Nabaclis Water Users Association, Kenrick Wickham was quoted expressing appreciation for the progress made thus far. In the release, Minister Mustapha reiterated the Government’s commitment to be responsive to the needs of farmers.