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Mahaicony farmers complain of deplorable dams, land disputes – Agri. Min. commits machine to carry out works next Tuesday

Residents and farmers from along the Mahaicony River in Region Five have raised several concerns with Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha including deplorable dams, dilapidated roads, drainage and irrigation and seemingly unfair grading of paddy at rice mills; some of which will be addressed in the coming week.

Minister Mustapha recently met with the residents at Mora Point, Mahaicony River.

During the farmers’ meeting, a rice farmer from Yarrow Creek, Bhagwan Deo disclosed that the main canal in the area is blocked and will hinder the harvesting of his current rice crop.

In addition, he said “every time the May/June rainfall we getting flood and we gotta pump out the water. If we can’t pump out the water all the rice gone. Although the Hope Canal tries to ease the water still we getting flood.”

The rainy period also leads to further damage of the access roads in the area.

Krishendat Manickchand, a resident from Mahaicony spoke about the condition of the access road and the hardships farmers continue to face, especially during the rainy season.

” There’s this road on the other side of the Mahaicony River. I would like to know if repairs on it will go into the budget for next year because there are a lot of lands there that are being cultivated and farmers get a hard time taking their produce out especially with the inclement weather,” Mr. Manickchand told the Minister.

Jeetendra Persaud, a rice farmer and secondary school teacher from Joanna Creek said that there needs to be better representation for the farmers at mills in the Region.

He complained that “Farmers are being bullied by the millers. The people there are not looking after the interest of the farmers.”

After listening to the complaints and issues from the farmers and residents in attendance, the Agriculture Minister made a commitment that will see relief being brought to the area as early as next week.

“The road seems to be the burning issue. I want you to know that the project has started. The consultants are working and I’ve asked the CEO of the NDIA to bring that individual here to explain the works to you. The road will be from Mora Point to First Savannah. In relation to the dams, the last time I was here I said that we will concentrate on community projects. I want to reiterate that we will continue to help farmers individually, but at the same time, we have to look at the community projects first so that the majority of persons can benefit,” he told the farmers.

Minister Mustapha added that “what I will do, there are several dams here. I know that we are close to crunch time for rice harvesting. I will boost your fleet of machinery with another machine from Tuesday. So you’ll now have two machines to do works in the area. We will also be installing another pump at Mora Point…We are currently boosting the system with pumps because our drainage system wasn’t designed to take off the amount of water we often see during the rainy season or when there is persistent rainfall.”

The subject Minister also addressed land issues that were raised by residents noting that this will be dealt with by the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary/Agriculture Development Authority (MMA/ADA).

In relation to the grading system at the , the Minister said a directive was given to the Rice Producers’ Association to engage the farmers to select an individual that will be trained and paid by the GRDB to work at the mill to ensure farmers receive correct grades for their paddy.

In addition, the Ministry is set to soon introduce a biofortified rice variety to the local, regional and Latin American markets. Rice farmers can expect higher prices for this variety given the fact that its nutritional properties are higher than that of regular rice.

During a reaping exercise for the new zinc infused rice variety last Wednesday, which is still under trial at the Burma Rice Research Station, the Agriculture Minister explained that the GRDB at its Burma Rice Research Station has managed to double the amount of Zinc in the rice rather than to put it artificially into food.

GRDB’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Mahendra Persaud said that the team of scientists at the Burma Rice Research Station have been observing the variety’s performance for some time and is optimistic that it will be successful once approved for commercial purposes.