Rice farmers forced to hire pontoons to move rice

first_imgMahaicony inaccessible damsDespite proposed increased charges by the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary/ Agriculture Development Authority (MMA/ADA) for services offered to farmers in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), rice farmers are being forced to find alternative ways to transport their paddy from the rice field.This is as a result of the deplorable access dam in the area; such severe conditions that farmers have been forced to transport their paddy by river using pontoons. The rice farmers who spoke with Guyana Times said this new transportation method has attracted additional expenses and many of the farmers will not be able to recover their production cost.Over 300 acres of paddy is still to be harvested in the Mahaicony Creek area.Meanwhile, the MMA has increased land rental, as well as drainage and irrigation charges in the area which farmers said will only put additional financial burdens on them.According to one farmer, should he pay those imposed charges, he will be forced to abandon his lands because of the many financial constraints being faced. Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal met with the affected farmers on Thursday.According to Ramphal, there is urgent need to have the continuation of the access dam upgraded to an all-weather road, up to the community of Pine Ground. This, he said, was proposed in the 2018 Budget proposals; however, it was not approved. He indicated that this must be a priority in the 2019 budget.Ramphal added the Government needs to subsidise these farmers by providing fuel, fertiliser and seed paddy, as was previously done by the past Administration. He noted that the MMA also must withdraw the unconscionable increase of land rental and drainage and irrigation charges since farmers across the region would have suffered losses to their crop because of little or no maintenance works done to access dams and drainage and irrigation canals.Meanwhile, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority has provided assistance with one excavator to load the paddy onto the pontoon. However, farmers have to pay the off-loading, transportation and other charges.A total of about 600 acres of paddy is still to be harvested in the Mahaicony/Mahaica area, with a further 2000 acres in the MMA Scheme still in the fields. Farmers there are being forced to use animal-drawn carts to get their paddy out of the fields because tractors cannot get through the dams.Ramphal added that had the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Councillors and Regional Executive Officer Ovid Morrison been attending Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meetings, those issues could have been addressed and some of the dams would have been fixed in time for harvesting. He says he will be taking the farmers’ issues up with Agriculture Minister Noel Holder and urged the region’s Councillors to put the interest of the citizens first and stop beating the desk at the RDC meetings. (Andrew Carmichael)last_img

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