I refer to my letter of May 24, where I expressed my surprise at the disbandment of the Hague/Blankenburg Water Users Association (WUA). This decision was not taken haphazardly – it had been a collective one – as there was collusion among top-level decision makers in the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) for obvious reasons for Hague/Blankenburg to become exempted.
We have to agree that the Water Users Association in contention, bears evidence of connivance at managerial levels as the National Coordinator of the Water Users Association and the NDIA Engineer’s office were moved to Fellowship not so long ago. Oversight will tell these trusted officers of what might have been ailing within the system. The offices of these two important officers can be found behind the Fellowship Post Office in the old office building of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). When the order was made to relocate the offices of these two Water Users Association personnel, we all felt very good to have such individuals within easy reach, and we felt that issues and problems would be handled expeditiously, much to the benefit of all stakeholders or so we thought…time however, has taught us a different lesson.
It is a known fact that the WUA was an enactment of Parliament and became legally established for the sole benefit of the country’s farmers. The law of the land is paramount and no one has the right to tamper with it.
We have to look at the office of the National Coordinator of the WUA with some suspicion. Because if she dwells within the heart of the “Hague/Blankenburg” WUA, how then were Den Amstel and Fellowship allowed to perpetuate such dominance over a legally established body. Do they have more rights than anyone else? I presume not!
Efforts are now being made to clear our irrigation systems. By whom I do not know; maybe the NDIA or the Ministry of Agriculture. Our waterways have not been cleaned for the past six months, whereas it should have been cleaned on a monthly basis.
There is another troubling development, where some influential member (or members) of some WUAs will take large sums of money from the accounting clerk to do works on the WUA’s behalf but instead, use that money for their personal business. In very many instances they do not submit bills or cash reconciliation statements and at all times they have walked away scot free without a question.
Rice farmers have expended very large sums of money and personal labour to put in, sustain and harvest a crop. Irrigation water is essential for growing a successful rice crop and any situation that hinders the function and progress of a rice farmer, can eventually bring untold suffering for him and his family, and meanwhile, his obligations to his creditors are still due.
We are the producers of a very important staple and we have the expertise to enable us to continue to produce successfully. But, if vital support does not come from the Ministry of Agriculture and the relevant governmental agencies then we will need a complete transformation of the rice industry for the betterment of all. I am 80 years old and I still have hopes and aspirations. But would I live to see the changes? Maybe or maybe not!
Ganga (Bobby) Persaud.