The Region One administration is refuting claims made by the PNCR that the region has been neglected and has not benefited from any assistance to drive development.
In a press release Regional Chairman Fermin Singh said the PNCR misrepresented and “negatively highlighted the efforts to develop the Region” during a recent outreach exercise it hosted there. Singh said contrary to the claims in the article titled “PNCR outreach in Region One told about major difficulties” published on Thursday in this newspaper; infrastructure and agriculture development is evident in the region.
He said all titled Amerindian communities have each obtained $1M and they have benefited from enormous support to develop the agriculture sector as well as other forms of development. New schools were built at Kachi, Kama, Koberimo and Savannah Black Water.
Singh said the agriculture ministry handed over $4.5M to the St Anselems community for drainage works and farmers participated in a two-year training programme to boost organic production. Additionally, the Region said the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) which became a service oriented organisation under the PNC, provided market and facilitation services to farmers and other stakeholders. It has also established a farmers’ database where production is matched with buyers’ requests.
In recent years the GMC has also provided capacity building, market improvement and development matchmaking, marketing advisory, training and other services to the private sector stakeholders; farmers, exporters, agro-processors and agri-business investors, the release said. Through the GMC’s efforts exports of non-traditional produce have increased from 1,902 tonnes in 1992, from a value of under US$1M to over 7,000 tonnes in 2008 to the value of over US$9M.
The Region said too in mid-2008 the Office of the Prime Minister gave credit assistance to farmers for the purchase of fertilizers and limestone which they have not yet paid for, to assist them to cultivate peanuts for a local processor in the Mabaruma sub region. Additionally, three rotor sillers were provided free of cost to farmers to help them to prepare their land.
As regard peanut farming the release said that a local buyer, Peter Saywack, roasts and packages the produce for the market. It said too Saywack’s processing operation has been completed and he will soon purchase 5,000lbs at $200 per pound. Further, the PM’s office will soon release $1M to buy peanuts, the release said.
The PNCR said residents had voiced concerns about unemployment and the lack of access to birth certificates and pension books. Residents at Hotoquai had said that they had submitted money to the region to obtain the birth certificates and were still to receive them and this hampered them from registering their children in schools as well as obtaining ID cards.
According to the PNCR, residents had also said that agriculture was stagnating and that they had no means of transporting their produce to the markets at Kumaka and Mabaruma. They said too they had responded to the ‘Grow more’ campaign only to discover that that there is no market for peanuts and their produce, forcing them to sell to “hustlers” at lower prices. Residents said too the lack of drainage had constrained their efforts at a livelihood citing the flooding at Aruau where residents had lost all their crops.