Spraying Bath canals with weedicide for overgrowth destroys millions in crops

…livestock also dying, farmers call for compensation

Some cash crop farmers at Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) are counting their losses after using water contaminated with weedicide to water their crops.
Additionally, some livestock farmers have lost some of their animals after being fed grass that was sprayed with a deadly weedicide and in some cases the animals drank the contaminated water.

Mahesh Jagdeo

The farmers are claiming that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Blairmont Estate would have used a weedicide to kill the vegetation growing in one of its canals running through Bath Settlement. Cash crop farmers use the water from the canal to water their crops.
Other farmers of the same community claim that the Bath-Woodpark Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) would have undertaken a similar exercise.
This is despite repeated calls by Government officials, including Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, for contractors to desist from spraying waterways with chemicals and stick to manual cleaning of those areas.
Kamani Balkarran 51, is a cash crop farmer and together with her husband, they cultivated about a quarter acre with eschalot and eggplants.
She told this publication that two weeks ago she had eschalot at different stages.
“The whole garden was sheer shallot and me use the water that they spray the trench and water the shallot and the garden wipe down,” Balkarran explained.
“The NDC sent the workers to weed the trench and they didn’t weed the trench; they come and they spray the trench,” the woman claimed.

Tomato plants after being watered with water from the canal

The woman said she reached out to the NDC but no help was forthcoming.
“They tell me that the chairman said that I have to call the sanitary. I want to know what the sanitary has to do with this?” the angered woman asked.
“No one has come as yet since I called them three weeks ago; this is what I depend on,” she pointed out.

Mahindranauth Sucree

She said she depends solely on her crops and not only has she lost what she had growing but the soil is now contaminated rendering it useless currently.
“When I reap my whole garden and sell it, I does make a million dollars from it,” she said.
Meanwhile, several animal farmers have lost sheep and goats.
Mahindranauth Sucree, who lives at Waterloo, Bath Settlement, is both a cash crop and livestock farmer who gets grass from a canal, he claims is maintained by GuySuCo for his animals.
According to him, on March 27, he asked someone to cut a bag of grass for him.
“He did not observe that the guys going and spray and he go and cut the grass and he bring it and give me and I give the big ram the grass. Nobody know that they spray the trench. The next morning somebody tell him not to cut the grass, because the trench spray. Then he come and ask me what I did with the grass. Ah tell him that I give the sheep. When I run to the pen, the ram on his last lap; I can’t do nothing to save him,” the man said.

Sucree said about six sheep died and he believes that they would have drunk water from the canal, which is customary.
“All I am asking is if they can give me something to buy back one, because I will have to go and purchase one,” Sucree related.
Other cash crop farmers who utilise the canal to water their crops said that they are feeling the brunt of the contaminated water as they are losing large amount of income.

The situation being faced by farmers

Mahesh Jagdeo, who has just over one acre under cultivation at Plantation Hope, Railway Line is one such farmer.
He cultivates eschalot, celery and tomatoes.


“Apparently, GuySuCo spray the irrigation canal and we pump the water into our fields and the chemical got in contact with the plants and they are dying. The tomato, eschalot and celery.”

Kamani Balkarran

He explained that to get back to the land he has started to remove the contaminated plants, and placing limestone and manure on the beds with the hope that he will be able to replant soon. Jagdeo said the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) has intervened and taken soil samples and also water samples. He said they are awaiting the soil test results.
He and other farmers had gone to GuySuCo Blairmont Estate with the aim of meeting with the field manager but after waiting for more than one and a half hours, he told them he was busy and could not have met with them. The farmers are also calling to the Agriculture Ministry to intervene. (G4)