Relief for Region Five rice farmers as gov’t braces for water battle

As Central Government and its agencies battle to save thousands of acres of rice lands from dry conditions in Region 5, there has been some measure of relief to a number of farmers and they have expressed their willingness to cooperate on the rationing efforts.

One farmer of Esau and Jacob, Mahaicony said the water pumped from Mora Point has reached his area but pumping by farmers remains strictly monitored. He told Stabroek News yesterday that he managed to get his pumping done and he also said he was waiting 10 days just to “duck” his 40 acres of rice lands.

“I hear the other pump at Mora Point working now and we working out who get to pump water before who,” said Johnny. “They (MMA) can’t help everybody at one time but people trying to cooperate,” he said.

Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council of Region 5 Bindrabhan Bisnauth told Stabroek News yesterday  that while the MMA is directly responsible for drainage and irrigation in Region 5, the region works in collaboration to ensure the success of these efforts. “Together we take initiatives to help farmers in the region but because of the high tides and the possibility of salt water intrusion the sluice at Hyde Park could not be opened.

He confirmed that both units of the Mora Point pump were operational. He said too that while two other inlets have been opened, they are careful about opening more due to the risk of salt water intrusion that becomes an issue with high tides. “We are keeping a check of the water levels in the river and once the water recedes we will start opening more inlets,” said Bisnauth.

Regional Chairman for Region Three Julius Faeber told Stabroek News yesterday that his region is not experiencing what is being seen in other regions. “Our conservancy is high and we have adequate water supply,” he said.

He said though that some of the drains in the region need cleaning and they are in the process of doing that with the help of Central Government which is providing the use of an excavator.

“We are not in a serious situation at this point in time but we too may have to ration if the dry weather continues,” he said. Faerber said that the region together with the Rice Producers Association and Water Users Association is monitoring the situation. He said that they discuss these matters at a fortnightly meeting of the Region.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Agriculture had announced that in response to the dry weather and water emergency, it will be establishing a multi-sector task force to monitor the situation on a daily basis. It said too that to this end teams have been deployed across the affected areas to provide real-time feedback.
The task force will comprise the ministries of Local Government, Works and Home Affairs and GUYSUCO.

Minister Ramsammy in the statement appealed for cooperation from all stakeholders. “I am asking farmers to cooperate with technical officers on the ground as we work to ensure that everyone has access to the limited amount of water available for distribution.  We will continue to entertain all recommendations and to implement all possible mechanisms to ensure we increase water levels by pumping and letting water from different sources into the irrigation canals,” he said.

He said too that it was a time for politicians to work with him and the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure farmers get water, noting that to this end he has spoken to Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine of APNU and has made attempts to speak with Khemraj Ramjattan of AFC.

He said that the NDIA and the MMA and regional authorities are working to source water from all possible avenues.

“All suggestions and recommendations are being considered and where these make sense, we are implementing them. However, the present situation means we must regulate individual pumping of water into farms. We must ensure than farmers close to water sources do not have an unfair advantage over farmers distant from the water sources.  In this regards we will actively monitor all pumping from irrigation canals into individual farms and ration water to ensure that all farmers have adequate supplies for growing their crops. Farmers throughout the coast are asked to cooperate with us during this period,” the Minister said.

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