Water-starved Corentyne rice farmers are being urged to conserve as the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) moves to repair a damaged pump at Manarabisi, Skeldon and deploy another to Black Bush Polder (BBP) to irrigate thousands of acres of rice fields.
“By the end of next week, both sites would be restored to their capacity,” Chief Executive Officer of the NDIA, Lionel Wordsworth told Stabroek News yesterday. He explained that about three weeks ago, two of the three pumps that service BBP went down due to mechanical failure. One has been repaired and was back in operation from Saturday while the other cannot be repaired because of its age and the fact that parts for the machine are no longer manufactured, he said.
Wordsworth said that a 120 cusecs hydro flow pump is being deployed to the area as an interim measure to add capacity and it should be in place by Wednesday. A tender is out to replace the engine and the associated parts for the third pump and this would be closed on November 27, he said. He noted that the pumps at BBP have to service front lands now being re-cultivated- an additional 73,000 acres.
At Manarabisi, one of the two pumps there requires repairs which will be done this week, Wordsworth said.
He noted that the pumps extract water from the Canje River which has the capacity to supply all irrigation needs. The situation is being monitored closely since the area is currently experiencing a dry spell, the NDIA boss said. He urged farmers not to waste irrigation water and adopt methods to conserve. “There is enough water in the Canje Creek to serve all areas,” he said.
Last week, rice farmers at BBP and Crabwood Creek on the Corentyne told Stabroek News that water levels in the irrigation canals were low and they were worrying about the impact on their crop. Farmers were desperately trying to get water to pump into their fields as this new crop is at a crucial stage. The farmers told Stabroek News that the young plants have already started to “burn” from the heat.
To make matters worse, the drainage trenches from where they might have been able to access water have been inundated with saltwater.
Regional Chairman David Armogan, when contacted, told this newspaper that government is aware that the “whole crop is in jeopardy…” He had said efforts were being made and that the pumps should be working again by next week. Noting that “this is a critical time for the farmers,” the chairman said a delegation of “51 farmers visited the president [Donald Ramotar] at his office on Thursday.”