Corentyne farmers await clearing of canal blockage to prepare lands for new rice crop

An overgrowth of vegetation has blocked the canal.

Upper Corentyne rice farmers are in need of an intervention by regional authorities for the clearing of a blockage in the Seaforth Canal as they start to prepare their lands for the next crop, according to Chairman of the Number 52 to 74 Water Users Association Ahmad Rajab.

An overgrowth of vegetation in the canal is disrupting the supply of water the farmers need in order to start preparing their lands for cultivation.

Rajab told Sunday Stabroek that farmers are in dire need of assistance from the authorities. He said it is crucial that they receive a definite answer from the authorities on whether the canal will be cleared within a certain timeframe, in order for them to decide whether they will have adequate time to go ahead with planting.

Rajab noted that of the 14,500 acres that were cultivated in the last crop, only close to 4,000 acres have undergone preparation for the next crop.

According to farmers, the canal was last cleared in February.

Sunday Stabroek was told that a contractor usually clears the canal in February and then conducts maintenance throughout the year, in keeping with the contract.

Rajab, however, related that nothing has been done since February.

Additionally, he explained yesterday that the canal is normally cleared manually, however, due to the heavy overgrowth, a machine is needed to carry out the necessary work.

“We have a lot of water for the farmers,” he noted, before adding that although they are ready to start pumping, if they start the water will overflow into the savannahs due to the blockage of the canal.

Rajab stressed that the regional authorities need to advise farmers on the way forward, since the crop should have started mid-May.

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