Despite state propaganda, problems faced by farmers of the Parika back Dam, East Bank Essequibo and Corentyne, in Berbice, highlight the bleak picture of their existence, according to AFC presidential candidate Khemraj Ramjattan.
“…What we have in Guyana is a situation where those who produce and feed our nation are themselves living in oppression,” Ramjattan said told a news conference last week.
He said the party had been approached by provision, cash and citrus farmers of the Parika Back Dam—whose produce, from approximately 2,000 acres, supply the Leonora, Parika and Bourda markets—who sought its assistance in highlighting the problems they face. Among their complaints, he said, was the deplorable state of the four-mile road and the challenge it poses for the transport of their produce.
Ramjattan noted that in the first quarter of this year, the road was laced with “crush and run,” which cost millions of dollars, but it has already begun to rapidly disintegrate. He added that those unable to transport and retail their produce directly at the markets are forced to accept unfair and unprofitable prices from middle men. Other issues affecting the farmers were the high cost of fertilizer as well as the lack of proper water and electricity supplies.
Additionally, Ramjattan said rice farmers within the Number 52 to Number 74 Corentyne area have complained to the AFC about the destruction of the Water Users Association.
He also noted that promises of payment for clearing of canals in the area have not been kept, and that a promise to keep a Hymac in the area was also not fulfilled, as it was ordered removed to Albion.
As a result, 25,000 acres of rice fields were not being drained so that reaping can be maximised, he said, while noting that harvesters are unable to reap their crop.
Ramjattan also said that the situation with the dams have also worsened as a result of a contract being given to a contractor with a straight-blade grader, at a higher cost per hour than the contractor with an angle-blade grader recommended by the Water Users Association.