Mahaicony Creek floodwaters receding but farmers’ losses mount

Even though the floodwater has started to recede in Mahaicony Creek areas, farmers’ losses are increasing as their livestock continue to die and their rice farms remain inaccessible.

Anthony Prashad standing on the muddy, impassable dam looking at one of his stuck vehicles.
Anthony Prashad standing on the muddy, impassable dam looking at one of his stuck vehicles.

“Well we’ve been under water since the last week in April and it was higher than this and it went down last week and just like that it came back up higher and went down back a bit,” Shrikant (only name given), a farmer from Gordon Table said.

She stated that while the water is slowly going down, her cash crops remain waterlogged and her livestock continue to die. “I had beans, tomatoes and sweet pepper and all dead. And even when the water goes down, I will have to wait about two months until I can start back planting on the soil again,” she said. So far, Shrikant said, she has lost over $300,000 in cash crops. In addition to her crops, she said that four of her cows are already dead and more are missing.

“We don’t even know where to search for them so we have to assume that they gone. I had about 80 big hens and I don’t even think I can count about 15 now and they continue to die. Plus I had about 4,000 baby hassars and when the water come everything duck and they all get away in the creek,” she explained.

However, residents and farmers have begun to feel a sense of relief after the water started to slowly recede. When Stabroek News visited the area on Sunday, some residents’ yards were covered in almost two feet of water and acres of rice fields were inundated. Yesterday it was observed that almost half of the water had moved off the land and the rice fields were clear of the water.

Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) head Aubrey Charles had explained to Stabroek News that the inclement weather conditions posed a difficulty in getting fuel for the pump to the area.

“Well, since you (Stabroek News) come Sunday and the pump didn’t getting fuel and didn’t work, it reach fast, fast,” Susankar Seedyal said. “And ever since the water start to go down. It rain a little on Monday and the water de come up again lil bit but since then it go down nuff. It still got but we glad.” Seedyal has lost his cash crops, fish and acres of rice.

Despite this, he expressed his gratitude to the MMA-ADA for “finally getting the fuel to the pump station to work”. He said he is sure that the situation could’ve been controlled and the flooding dealt with “long ago” if only they had addressed the issue with haste.

The koker at Mora Point is only half way opened and farmers said they believed that if it were to be fully opened, the water level in the creek would drop drastically and all the water would recede from the land.

However, Charles explained that the engineer had advised against such a move. “It’s not really a drainage [where the koker leads to] and it just lets water into the system to irrigate within the scheme. Let’s say you open it and you let water into the system and you get a shower of rain tonight and the drain system can’t take off the water cause it doesn’t have the holding capacity then you will have big problems there. You have to weigh it,” Charles said. He added that the farmers will always complain but at the end of the day a judgement call is needed and bringing the water level down from the river is a very difficult task.

“It’s not at the level we would like it to be but we’re monitoring. The problem is the water coming down from Moraikobai and the catchment area,” he said, adding that while he was expecting the water to be completely gone by the weekend, it was difficult to say whether that would happen at this point in time.

In addition to crops being destroyed and livestock dying, farmers raised concerns about health issues since the water from the creek is their only source of water for their daily use.

“They de dragging they foot all the time and got we in here like wild pigs but we glad. All they had to do was get the pump working like how it working right now,” Seedyal said.

However, with the water from the rice lands being pumped into the creek, Seedyal pointed out that the creek water was now harmful and persons living in Mahaicony Creek who use it should desist from doing so.

Chemicals

“You got all the chemicals from the rice field pumping over there [into the Mahaicony River], dead fish and people toilet run over and mixing all with the water and that is what you gotto use. Is the same water [from the river] that we does use to bathe, eat and use every day and children all getting sick, right now I feeling sick,” the man pointed out, stating that several persons have been complaining about fever and itches.

Seedyal, along with other farmers and residents, expressed the need for an intervention from the authorities before any illness breaks out. “We don’t have pipes with running water so is not like we got any option and that is the only water we gotto use. What we want is maybe some tanks or containers that we can use to store enough clean water to use,” he said.

Region Five Chairman Vickchand Ramphal had confirmed that there were reports of minor health related issues and said that the region was monitoring the situation but as of now there weren’t any “serious outbreaks.”

While the water has significantly drained off the rice fields, over 1,000 acres of rice are still at risk of being lost since the dam to traverse the area cannot be used.

“Right now look, I got about 40 acres ready to reap but I can’t get my combine in the field because the dam too bad and when you ask them to have the excavator help dig up the slush on the dam so the vehicles could pass you got to wait long,” Anthony Prashad said yesterday. Standing on the impassable dam, the rice farmer pointed to one of his vehicles stuck in the mud.

“And is not like it does happen far and wide, is every time the rain fall this dam does get bad, bad… all we want is a proper road or something, brother,” he said as many other farmers vocally supported his statements.

The farmers explained that even if they were able to reap their crop they would not be able to transport it out of the area without losing money. “Is either you try and go through the road and get stick up or you hire a pontoon, but it don’t make sense cause that expensive,” one of the farmers explained.

Stabroek News had reported that all over Region Five was experiencing flooding, owing to excess water flowing down the Mahaicony River. Areas such as Trafalgar, Lovely Lass, Number 29, 30 and 31 villages were inundated, mostly because the main koker and channel in Trafalgar were blocked and the water from the excess rainfall flowing down the river was unable to flow through to the sea. Moraikobai and areas in the Mahaicony Creek were experiencing heavy flooding due to the rainfall and drainage issues.

The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) in collaboration with the MMA-ADA had sent several excavators and pumps around the region to aid with drainage. The water had completely receded in West Coast Berbice areas over the weekend, but the Mahaicony Creek areas remained under several inches of water due to the continued rainfall and the pump at Pine Ground not receiving fuel to work over the weekend.

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