At the end of the current rainy season the Ministry of Agriculture expects to have spent just over $305 million to respond to issues arising from inclement weather.
During a press conference – prompted by requests for updates on the ministry’s response to the current rainy season and about activities aimed at supporting communities following El Nino conditions – Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud summarized a response programme formulated by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).
The NDIA, Persaud explained, met other groups like the regional administrations, the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to formulate a comprehensive plan to respond to the mid year rain. Works within this plan are still ongoing.
In Region Two, outfall channels were cleared at Anna Regina, Two Friends, Lima, Devonshire Castle, Westbury, Charity, Capoey and Affiance. Several other areas have also been targeted for outfall clearing and maintenance. Works in this region will cost $3 million, Persaud said.
Canals are being rehabilitated in Region Three (Hubu, Vergenoegen, Parika and Tuschen). An excavator is currently carrying out remedial works at the Boerasirie Conservancy embankment and outfalls are being cleared in a number of areas. As part of the $72.3 million response to work in Region Three, the Canal Number Two main will also be excavated.
However, the presence of squatters is hindering the execution of these works on the canal’s inlet and pump by-pass channel, Persaud said. These works, the minister stressed, will be carried out regardless. Arrangements have already been made for these squatters to be relocated and they will not be allowed to disrupt works that will benefit a larger portion of the region.
Similar works are also being done in Region Four. These will cost $46 million. The Greenfield outfall is currently being cleared and the NDIA, under its 2010 capital works programme, is expected to construct a pump station there.
Several projects are ongoing on the East Coast Demerara and on the East Bank 44 miles of drains are being maintained in Mocha, Craig, Friendship and Garden of Eden.
The ministry has allotted $62 million for Drainage and Irrigation (D&I) works in Region Five. In Mahaica, both left and right flood embankments are being constructed. Excavating and empoldering are being conducted in Mahaicony and farmers are being given “two days work so as to facilitate continued agricultural activity”.
There are also several long-term D&I projects which will also be undertaken in Region Five under the NDIA’s 2010 capital works programme.
Some $71 million will be expended in Region Six. Among the long-term projects slated for this region is the construction of four drainage sluices at Moleson Creek and a drainage structure at Number 19 Village, Corentyne. Persaud also announced that more than $1billion will be spent to expand and improve the Black Bush Polder Scheme.
While Region Ten does not fall into the areas for which the Agriculture Ministry is responsible, Persaud said that the NDIA is still carrying out $15 million in works there. The NDIA will also be constructing control structures at West Watooka and Lower Kara Kara, and drainage structures at Wismar Hill.
Another area which the ministry has been aiding is Georgetown. In fact, Persaud pointed out, equipment has been late getting to Linden because they were being used to clear outfalls at various city locations.
Meanwhile, the state of the water conservancies countrywide is improving, Persaud reported. The East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) had recorded a dead storage level of 53.5GD (Georgetown datum) during the El Nino conditions. Its most recent recorded level, according to Persaud, is 56GD which is 1.5GD below its full supply level.
The Boerasirie Water Conservancy is currently at 59GD, 1.4GD below its full capacity. However, due to the recent dry conditions there have been slippages. The NDIA currently has an excavator deployed at Two Mouth Creek to repair a slip in the embankment. Works will also commence on the construction of a 200 feet revetment south of Canal Number Two.
Two excavators are also at the MMA Water Conservancy carrying out maintenance works. The conservancy’s level is at 60.42GD, 3.58GD below its capacity. During El Nino it was at 59GD.
NDIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lionel Wordsworth, Chief Hydromet Officer Bhaleka Seulall and other officials from that office were also present at the press briefing yesterday.
Guyana, a Senior Hydromet Officer announced, is well into its primary rainy season. The coming week will continue to see intense early morning showers, the Hydromet officer said, but like the past couple of years rainfall will be normal. However, there is a possibility of localized flooding in coastal areas because of the high intensity of rainfall.
He also noted that there has been significant rainfall over the last few weeks and 37% above normal rainfall was recorded in Region Nine. In fact, over the past week there have been reports of rainfall washing away roads in South Rupununi causing the cost of goods to rise.
A number of workers from the Agriculture Ministry have recently returned from outreach trips to Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine. Teams managed to visit all of Region Nine (49 communities), most of Region One (49 communities), approximately 80% of Region Seven (22 communities, and half of Region Eight (8 communities). Officials will be visiting middle Mazaruni, Region Seven in the coming week.
The most noticeable issue in those regions is an Acoushi ant problem. However, the ministry has been distributing insecticides and equipping residents with the knowledge they need to tackle the problem.
Pumps, which dispense lethal powder into the ants’ nest, have been imported from Brazil and are currently being distributed countrywide.
As these teams travel through the various regions they are also gathering information on the needs of farmers so that the ministry will be better equipped to deal with challenges in the future. (Sara Bharrat)