Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy yesterday appealed to farmers and stakeholders for cooperation to ensure that everyone has access to the limited amount of water available for distribution in the light of the current dry weather.
“I am asking farmers to cooperate with technical officers on the ground,” the ministry said by way of a press release.
The release titled ‘Responding to Dry Weather and Water Emergency’ said the ministry has established a multi-sector task force which will monitor the situation on a daily basis. Teams have been deployed across the affected areas to provide real time feedback. The ministry is inviting the Ministry of Local Government, Works and Home Affairs and GuySuCo to be part of this Task Force, the release said.
“We will continue to entertain all recommendations and to implement all possible mechanisms to ensure we increase water levels by pumping and letting water from different sources into the irrigation canals,” the release quoted Ramsammy as saying.
“This is a time for politicians to work with me and the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure we maximize availability of water to farmers. I spoke directly to Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and I have been trying to speak to Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, the shadow Ministers of Agriculture and seek their support to ensure maximum cooperation at this time,” he added.
He said that while farmers will have their own perspective, “there is no wrong side or right side.” He said the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority and the Mahaica Mahaicony and Abary Agricultural Develop-ment Authority, as well as regional authorities are working to source water from all possible avenues.
“All suggestions and recommendations are being considered and where these make sense, we are implementing them,” Ramsammy said. “However, the present situation means we must regulate individual pumping of water into farms. We must ensure than farmers close to water sources do not have an unfair advantage over farmers distant from the water sources.”
The release said all pumping of water from irrigation canals will therefore be actively monitored and water will be rationed to ensure that all farmers have adequate supplies for growing their crops.
Farmers throughout the coast are asked to cooperate with us during this period, the release said.
According to the ministry, the farming areas facing severe water shortages for irrigation purposes include Black Bush Polder (Black Bush Front Lands), Rose Hall to Number 74 villages, Crabwood Creek, the MMA area in Region 5, Leguan and Wakenaam Islands, Region 3 and Region 2.
More than 70,000 hectares of rice land have been put under cultivation already and another 10,000 hectares have been under preparation. The low water levels are posing threats to farmers, the ministry added.
Meanwhile, pumps have been installed and repaired at Sandaka, Number One sideline in Crabwood Creek, Manarbisi, Numbers 52/74 and Mibicuri. There are also interventions in other places as the ministry continues to monitor the situation.
The release said the dry weather that started in September 2012 and continued to the middle of November 2012 led to low levels of water in our rivers and conservancies. The rainy interruption between the middle of November and the middle of December 2012 created problems for the sugar industry and curtailed operation in the sugar industry, but was a welcome intrusion for the rice farmers and allowed some replenishment of the conservancies. However, the dry condition reappeared since the middle of December 2012 and has continued since.
Dry weather is likely to continue in the next week, the release added and the prediction for the rest of January seems to indicate below normal amounts of rain with the dry season expected from February.
Notwithstanding these developments, the resilience of the industry is expected to be buttressed with support from all stakeholders, the ministry added.