With the commissioning yesterday of an $83M sluice at Bagotville, West Bank Demerara, residents have been promised relief from flooding woes and have taken up the challenge of making farming vibrant again.
Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, in his remarks said that the sluice, which was out of operation for 25 years, was designed to drain the area, which consists of 1,060 acres of land and benefits about 2,500 residents/farmers.
He said the investment would allow farmers to increase their acreage and yields and reduce the losses they suffered during flooding. He assured the farmers that their fear of flooding would now be minimal.
Holder also told the gathering that his government is resolute about building more relief channels and sluices and installing more pumps to complement the sluices and would be increasing the holding capacities of water conservancies.
He said too that they would be expanding the present irrigation system by greater connectivity to water sources and providing more capacity for irrigation canals.
The commissioning coincides with Agriculture Month, which is being observed under the theme “Exploring new production frontiers in pursuit of climate resilience.”
According to him, the ministry, through the National Drainage & Irrigation Authority (NDIA), has been concentrating on water management as a critical area in focus.
A farmer, Leroy Levans, recalled that as a child, farming was the main source of income in Bagotville and that the village produced the “best plantain and the best ground provision.”
The produce used to be transported by wooden boats to the Stabroek Market. At that time, the farmers used to pool their resources in order to cultivate the land.
Six years ago, Levans made contact with overseas-based residents and informed them that Bagotville needed to be a productive area again. Many of them pledged their support to come onboard and assist the residents to clear their land. Levans said the land has become “maiden and so the produce would be bountiful.”
Since the completion of the sluice, drainage has been very successful but the land is covered in thick bush. He asked Holder to assist them in clearing the land to be productive again.
He also vowed to take up the challenge of Chief Executive Officer of NDIA, Fredrick Flatts to “replace bush by crops” and for him and other farmers to visit his office to share their ideas.
In his remarks, Flatts had also said that 25 years ago he was living in the village when the sluice stopped functioning and the Nismes sluice had to assist with drainage.
Chairman of the La Grange/ Nismes Neighbourhood Democratic Council Isaac Bhagwandin told the gathering he had made “great representation” from since the time of the previous government for the sluice and was happy that it had finally become a reality.
Regional Chairman, Julius Faerber, remarked that a few other sluices in the region have been closed and he hopes to see them back on stream again.
The contractor for the project was Imran Hussain of Jainul Hoosain Civil Engineering & Contracting Services, while the consultant was Dr. Krishna Narine of SRKN Engineering & Associates, who said that the structure is “climate resilient.”