Improved farmers’ welfare, infrastructural development for Wakenaam – Irfaan Ali
Farmers on the Essequibo River island of Wakenaam, Region Three, will see developments that will enhance their businesses if the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) wins the upcoming March 2 General and Regional Elections.
This is according to the Party’s Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali, during a public meeting at Wakenaam on Tuesday, where he outlined plans for infrastructural development on the island to boost agricultural activities and improve the lives of residents.
Ali noted that the PPP/C understands the issues affecting the island and high among those is transportation.
“It is very costly to move your agriculture produce, it is very costly for you to conduct business off the island because you have to travel and sometimes you have to waste an entire day to conduct one transaction. The boat comes once per week, there is no transportation system to support the pensioner, there is no transportation system to support the children. Then you have the issue of moving your produce from the farm to the market. These are issues that you’re facing,” Ali outlined.
According to the PPP/C Presidential Candidate, if the island’s transportation infrastructure is not improved, then there will not be that critical link to get its produce to the market.
To this end, he outlined massive plans to develop the infrastructure in Wakenaam using revenues from the oil and gas sector.
“We want to complete, in the next five years, the Del Conte Road link (a PPP/C project initiated back in May 2013 for a road from Parika to Makouria – which is close to Bartica on the right bank of the Essequibo River). Many of you may say that this is a project we’ve been talking about for a very long time but you should recall we did not have the resources at that time. And for the oil and gas resources to help you, we have to use it to create opportunities for you. We have to use it to build the infrastructure to give you a better opportunity; the infrastructure that will reduce your cost of production, the infrastructure that will reduce input cost whether you’re in plantains or rice,” he posited.
Ali went on to note that the first thing his party will do is make investments to make life easier and costs lower for farmers. On this note, he explained that they will have to fix the stelling and ensure that there is a transportation network – on both land and water.
“…that would reduce the cost of operations for the farmers and that would make it easier for the products to get to the market,” he stated.
Moreover, the PPP/C Presidential Candidate also outlined plans to support farmers directly by providing opportunities on the regional and international markets for their produce.
“We have a Caricom (Caribbean Community) food market that is worth $10 billion. We have to be able to help the farmers by opening up lands by supporting them with drainage and irrigation. Not by increasing land leases, not by increasing land tax but by giving more and reducing the cost… We have to empower the farmers to make more decisions on their own… That is why we have to invest more in community initiatives so the farmers must be able to determine ‘what are the priorities that require investments from the Government’ so they can improve production. That is the first thing then we have to link the production to the market,” he stressed.
In this vain, the Presidential Candidate pointed out that a PPP/C Administration will seek to link Wakenaam with the other islands in the Essequibo River and create a mutual agricultural hub at Parika, East Bank Essequibo.
“The agricultural hub must be created and built to international standards so that we could have exports right from Parika. So we have to link these islands in a faster way to the hub… This will open up new markets, better-priced markets. This will encourage farmers to expand production and this is how the oil and gas sector will bring real benefits to the farmer. This is how it will be used to open up real opportunities for you,” Ali told residents of Wakenaam.
But in order for these plans to become a reality, Ali told residents of Wakenaam that they need to go out and vote to ensure that the PPP/C secures victory at the upcoming polls.
“We have no other option to ensure that things work out and the PPP/C is re-elected… We need a large turnout in Wakenaam because we have to beat them by a margin that would leave no doubt. We have to beat them not by a convincing margin but by an extraordinary margin. It is like when you get white-wash in a test match, that is how licks must share and that is what we must aim for,” the Presidential Candidate asserted.