first_img…as water woes hit Corentyne villagesSeveral farmers operating in the 52/74 area on the Corentyne, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) have been advised not to cultivate this rice crop. The advice has come from the 52/74 Water Users Association (WUA) in the wake of continued blockage of the Seaforth Canal which provides irrigation for 14,500 acres of rice land.President of the 52/74 Water Users Association, Ahmad Rajab said farmers have been pouring into the Association’s office on a daily basis seeking help.He said the contract to clean the Seaforth Canal was awarded to a contractor early this year, but no work was done to the canal causing farmers great worry for the first crop.However, the regional administration was able to secure a machine to clean the canal so that the farmers did not lose the last crop.“Low and behold, they gave the contact to the same contractor again and nothing has been done. Now the farmers are ready to start the crop and they can’t get any water,” Rajab told Guyana Times.Currently, the Seaforth Canal is clogged with vegetation, blocking the flow of irrigation water making it almost impossible for them to start preparation and cultivation.The issue was discussed on Thursday at the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) statuary meeting. Regional Chairman David Armogan said there are two issues that the RDC must address.He explained that at the beginning of the year, a Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) contractor was given a contract to clean the Seaforth canal but what did was very little.According to Armogan, after the intervention of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to clear the canal at a cost of $5 million and the contractor was expected to recommence his contractual arranger to keep the canal clean for the rest of the year.“He has done nothing since and we are in serious trouble again because even if we start the pumps the farmers cannot get water because that is the major irrigation canal that takes water to the farmers.”The Chairman said if that canal is not cleaned within a week there will be trouble.“The crop has already started. We have to treat it as an emergency because we may well end up in a situation where farmers will not be able to plant.”Armogan noted that the second issue is that the NDIA which would normally reimburse the WUA of monies spent to clean secondary drainage and irrigation canals has run out of funds.“The secondary canals, up to last crop, were cleared and NDIA reimburse the money to the Water Users Association. This crop, the NDIA is saying to the Water Users Association that they are out of funds and they may not be able to give them the money as is necessary to pay the people to clean the secondary canals.”According to Armogan, the NDIA at a meeting last week advised that the WUA utilise whatever method is available to it in order to get the water system cleared.“The only method available to the Water Users Association now is to go after the people who are not paying and also to increase their rates. That is a policy that will have to be made by the Government. However, the Minister had said that at some point the Water Users Association at some point will have to become self-sufficient,” Armogan said, while noting that it will be a very testing time for rice farmers in the region.According to the Rice Producers Association, several decades ago, farmers were responsible for cleaning the canal in front of their rice farms, but Government has since taken over that responsibility, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to do so.Meanwhile, at Black Bush Polder and several other rice producing areas in the region, the farmers have already started to sew their paddy for the second crop. (Andrew Carmichael)last_img

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