Several residents of Windsor Castle, Essequibo Coast are blaming a rice farmer for what they call thousands of dollars in losses after chemical residues from a nearby rice field filtered onto their crops on Thursday last.
According to the affected cash crop framers, a rice farmer last Thursday morning sprayed his rice field with the herbicide Gramoxone, as he prepared it for rice cultivation.
The use of the herbicide is common to kill unwanted grass but instead of using a fogging machine to spray his rice field, the farmer reportedly used a tractor with a mounted sprayer and in the process of spraying his rice land which is located east of the village, the farmer may have contaminated a part of the community with the harmful chemical.
This newspaper was told that an estimated 60 residents were affected as the chemical came into contact with their fruits, vegetables, and for some even their water supplies.
On a visit to the village on Saturday last that was requested by the affected residents, Stabroek News was shown the areas that were affected by the chemical and frustrated residents voiced their dissatisfaction over how the situation has been handled thus far.
The chemical did not only destroy a vast area of vegetation, but even grass along the roadside near the rice field was left scorched by the chemical’s residue.
Some residents’ kitchen gardens were so severely affected that most of their vegetables and cash crops are no longer edible leaving them with no other choice than to replant their crops.
Indarpaul Ramkumar, a farmer who was severely affected and estimated that the losses he suffered amount to some $300,000, said that even though he cultivates rice on a large scale, he also plants vegetables on a medium scale, for wholesale and retail purposes.
“If my husband was home we would of put on the pump and wash off the plants. My husband and I put forth a lot of effort into our gardening, we got to ensure we clean the beds and water the plants and all. Sometimes the same money that we get for selling the crops help to pay the light bill, buy groceries and other small necessities. It’s really hard to start over because this crop of produce was nearing harvest time, It’s not easy to cultivate, and medications are very expensive sometime $5000 per bottle chemical,” said Mrs. Ramkumar who spoke with the media.
Stabroek News was shown the Ramkumar’s garden where hundreds of eschallots, cucumbers, pepper, bora and calalloo plants that were almost nearing harvesting were scorched by the chemical.
When contacted for a comment on the issue, Lesley Munroe who sits on the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals (Control) Board promised to communicate the information to other personnel on the board and said that a team will be dispatched to the community sometime tomorrow to conduct an investigation.
Residents said that reports were lodged at the Anna Regina Police station on the same issue but will be grateful if the matter can be looked into by the Pesticides Board since they are not sure what aid the police can give them.
They are hoping that after an investigation is done, some form of compensation can be awarded to them.