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East Coast rice farmers to get drying floor, residents to get drainage contracts

(Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while engaging farmers)

Rice Farmers on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) can soon be able to access a drying floor for their paddy. The farmers on Thursday petitioned Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha at a meeting at Cove and John, for the facility since the one they previously used is no longer available.

“Minister we need a drying floor because we are really punishing to dry our paddy. We had a private place where we usually dry our paddy but the place was sold and when we dry on tarpaulin the paddy is not germinating,” one farmer said.

In response, Minister Mustapha told the farmers that if they can identify an available area, the ministry will work with them to facilitate the construction of a drying floor to assist them with drying their paddy.

The farmers also told the minister that the individual who operates the machine in the area has been stealing fuel that should be used to carryout work in the community.

After listening to the farmers’ issues, Minister Mustapha instructed officials from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to investigate the matter immediately and provide him with a report.

The Minister advised the farmers to form themselves into a group, including cash crop, rice, and livestock farmers, so that there can be a systematic approach to collaborations between the ministry and the farmers to carry out works needed in the community.

Minister Mustapha said through the NDIA, the machines in the area continue working to ensure farmers benefit from proper drainage and irrigation. Further, he told farmers that come 2022, villagers will benefit from maintenance contracts from the ministry to carry out works on the drains in the community.

“While you’re cleaning the trench for the satisfaction of the farmers, persons who are carrying out these works will be able to earn. We need the farmers to cooperate. You cannot continue to work in isolation because things will not be done properly. The ministry will work with everyone but we need everyone to be honest. If farmers want development in their community, I can assure you that the government will work to bring development to the community,” Minister Mustapha explained.

The Minister committed to having the ministry construct a gate to secure farmers’ rice fields after they voiced their concerns about cattle from neighboring communities destroying their crops.

The Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring Guyana’s agriculture sector continues to grow despite setbacks caused by the recent flooding during this year’s extended May-June rainy period. (Extracted and Modified from DPI)