Even though the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary (MMA) scheme has started operating an irrigation pump at Mora Point, some Mahaicony rice farmers are still without water but Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy says there will be some relief by this weekend.
Speaking to this newspaper, one farmer from Wash Clothes said yesterday that the situation is not yet resolved. “They (MMA) started the Mora Point pump. But while the water coming they stop the Mora Point farmers from pumping so that other farmers [father down] would access,” he said. The man noted that while all of the farmers remain concerned about the shortage of water, some of them at Mora Point are cooperating with the order not to pump in order to allow the flow to reach those far away.
He said too that there was no water at Wash Clothes up to yesterday morning. He said that some farmers whose crops were at highly critical stages were allowed some water to their fields while some others were spared a little just to soak their land in a bid to save their crop from ruin.
Rice farmers from different areas in Mahaicony have expressed concern for their crop due to the shortage of water and they called for better regulation of the sources of water since farmers farther from the waterways are suffering the most. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Minister of Agriculture Dr Ramsammy said that by weekend there should be some measure of relief to the farmers in the communities.
“In all of the regions there is water stress right now,” said Dr. Ramsammy. He said that because the MMA has only been completed up to Phase One, farmers in the Abary block are in a better situation than other farmers.
The Minister said that regulating the water remains a major challenge. “We have to make sure pumps do not take in salt water,” he said.
Speaking to this newspaper yesterday, General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association Dharamkumar Seeraj explained the difficulties that are facing the farmers and what his association and the MMA are trying to address.
“Currently the crop is in the vegetative stage, meaning that it needs to be under water. We have not had the normal rainy season. We were always aware that the December/January rains would have been less than normal but [not to this extent],” he said.
He said that Region Five and Six are under pressure. He said that the areas in danger are those from the left bank of the Abary River to the right bank of the Mahaica River. He said that because of the lack of rainfall the rivers are not very high and it is a challenge to get fresh water.
“What we have put in place with the MMA is a time-run system in different areas depending on the availability of water. It is not as though those closest to the source will be getting all the water and denying others farther away. We spoke to a number of farmers in the area and we have even stopped some farmers from pumping so as to ensure that the water spreads. There is nothing more that can be done at this point in time except to monitor the system and ensure that farmers don’t take more than they need,” he said.