Cotton Tree farmers swamped

-as repairs not completed on D’Edward sluice

Cash crop farmers of Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice have suffered tremendous losses following heavy rainfall, coupled with the blocking of the three-door sluice at D’Edward Village as a result of repairs. Distressed at their loss, the farmers said the work on the luice commenced about three months ago and was not completed in time for the rainy season.

According to them, the one-door sluice at No 12 is not sufficient to drain the water. They are blaming officials at the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary/Agricultural-Development-Authority (MMA/ADA) for undertaking repairs without putting alternative measures in place.

When Stabroek News visited the area around 1:30 pm yesterday the water was still high in the farms and houses.

Some residents have had to mount their fridges and other appliances while some persons said they stepped off their beds to be greeted with water above their ankles.

The residents said they would normally be affected by flooding after a heavy rainfall “but as soon as they blow the koker the water would recede.”

According to them, they visited regional chairman, Bindrabhan Bisnauth seeking relief from their woes and he tried to find solutions to their problems.

They also visited the MMA/ADA and “spoke to the irrigation manager, Anil Ramjit and he told us that he would be here and that he would send an excavator” to open the doors.

They were pleased that the regional vice-chairman visited them yesterday and tried to source a pump from MMA/ADA. However, they learnt that the pump could not work at D’Edward.

In an interview with Stabroek News last evening, Bisnauth said “the sluice has been up and running from 8 pm. Two doors have been opened and the third door would be opened tomorrow [today].”

He said “residents and staff from MMA were still there [last evening] at the sluice to volunteer and to lend support to the operators.”

Regarding the delay in the repairs to the sluice, the chairman said it was “not caused because of administrative hurdles” but rather because “the contractors had to go through a process.”

Some persons commented that government needs to repair the pump at Trafalgar so that residents do not have to continue to suffer losses to flooding.

They said the flooding started on November 28, when the rainy season commenced. They kept hoping that the water would recede but yesterday the situation got worse.

One farmer said that, “Since 2005 we suffering from flooding in this area and we were promised help but the agricultural representative never provided any. We hear that it would reach up to Bath Settlement.”

Zahiruddeen Rahman said 1,200 of his bearing English tomato plants and 800 roots that were at the flowering stage were under water. He said he invested $200,000 and depended on the farm to maintain his family.

“It is very hard to spend all that money to raise the tomato to the bearing stage and then watch them go down the drain.” Another farmer, Sunhanlall Ragbeer said he lost 1,900 tomato plants and had already started to pick from 400 as well as 15 roots of squash and 150 roots of cucumbers.

He works as a cane-harvester and said he “depend on the farming for a side savings” and had invested over $100,000. Among the other farmers who suffered losses to their cash crops and livestock were Orilall Jagmohan, Doodnauth Chandran, Surajnauth Ramlochan as well as Geenarine Ramdhan who had to find a dry spot in the kitchen to protect his meat-birds.

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