Over the years, the government has made massive investments in the agricultural sector. The millions of dollars spent on sea defences, river defences, pumps, drainage and irrigation systems, roads and training facilities have been invested to create favourable conditions for farmers and should be efficient. Farmers must now ensure that they get real benefits from the investment in the future.
The programme for developing agriculture requires the Ministry of Agriculture to do a number of specific things.
It should improve the land base for farming by having better sea and river defences and by better drainage and irrigation. It also needs to upgrade and develop feeder roads to give access to farms to facilitate the bringing out of crops.
Rice farmers whose crop was affected by the La Niña phenomenon should learn from this experience and ask the government to put these things in place. Major ongoing schemes like Mahaica/ Mahaicony/Abary, Tapakuma and Black Bush are examples of this principle. These schemes are expensive and will cost billions if they collapse.
We must identify the areas which require upgrading now; we will have to acquire, adapt and develop new strategies to deal with El Niño and La Niña, and we will not get far without the assistance of technology. We must act urgently to remove the many problems which have in the past hampered agricultural production.
One of the most important of these is the problem of proper access dams. Once we have understood and accepted the general approaches to the development of our country, we must focus upon the particular things we have to do to achieve our objectives.
And we must do these things in a carefully planned and systematic way. In the final analysis, development does not come about by making or understanding statements of principle and policies.
The La Niña weather phenomenon has taken its toll on Guyana’s rice industry with some losses but not to a major extent. The harvesting of the present rice crop has commenced in Region Two, where farmers are making full use of the sunny weather.