Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha has pledged to ensure that critical drainage and irrigation works are conducted at Wakenaam, Hog Island and Leguan, during a recent outreach to the area.
The Minister and a team of ministerial and regional officials visited the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three) on Tuesday to engage residents on pressing concerns.
Drainage and irrigation matters were the main challenges hampering livelihoods on all three islands, the Department of Public Information reported on Wednesday.
According to the DPI report, at Wakenaam, the Minister said a long-boom excavator would be dispatched to tend to drainage while repairs are conducted on the dilapidated one. A bulldozer would also be sent to complete works on the island.
“I listen to the plight and your complaints, and I heard that these are important things to you all, that is why on the spot we are making these things available, so that you can have better conditions,” Mustapha is quoted as saying by DPI.
Minister Mustapha said Wakenaam makes vast contributions to agriculture in Guyana, producing 140,000 coconuts weekly, boasting 1,863 acres of rice land, and close to 100 rice farmers.
“You are making a tremendous contribution to our country, and in return we will ensure that we invest in the necessary infrastructure, so that you can benefit and you can have better infrastructure to do your farming,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Hog Island resident Joseph Naraindut told the team that his 300 acres of land is often inundated.
“We don’t have no river defence dam right through there, including the whole area there; and right now, with this heavy spring tide and last month spring tide, overtopping the whole place,” he said.
Residents also said the flooding was affecting their livestock, leaving their cattle with foot rot.
The Minister assured the residents that regional and technical officers will conduct an assessment to determine which works are urgent.
Meanwhile, with respect to access to markets, the Minister said the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC) will be revamped to provide more services to them. The New GMC will be tasked with securing access to markets for the region’s farmers, he said.
Efforts will also be made to get fertilisers and treatments to farmers at a cheaper cost.