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– Agri. Minister assures
…after Perth farmers plea with gov’t not to bypass them
By Svetlana Marshall
Amid concerns by farmers, who operate in Perth, that they are being bypassed during the distribution of the flood-relief cash grants, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha has assured that all farmers, who suffered losses during the recent floods that devastated
farming communities across the country, will be given relief.
Last Wednesday (October 13), farmers from Perth, a village in Mahaicony, complained bitterly that while other villages across the country have benefited from the flood-relief cash grants, Perth was left out in the cold.
But when asked by Village Voice whether the farmers at Perth have qualified for the grants, and if so when they are likely to receive those grants, the Agriculture Minister, in response, said the $7.6B flood-relief cash grant programme is still being rolled out.
“There is an ongoing exercise to ensure everyone who suffered losses during the flood are given relief,” Minister Mustapha said. However, he did not specifically indicate whether the farmers at Perth qualified for the financial grants.
In Perth, many farmers plant rice, however, others plant cash crop even as they engage in livestock and cattle farming.
Fifty-year-old Marcia Morrison is among rice farmers in Perth, who were hard hit by the floods earlier this year. Morrison said while the Ministry of Agriculture as well as the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) was monitoring the flood situation
in Perth, and is fully aware that the village was affected, there is no clear indication whether they will be receiving their flood-relief cash grant. “I planted 50 acres of rice, I lost 40 acres,” Morrison disclosed while noting that after assessing her rice
farm, an officer from the Agriculture Ministry indicated that the result was inconclusive.
Morrison said close to 30 farmers in the village are affected.
Kleidanna Halley – a 41-year-old rice farmer – who lost approximately 20 acres of rice during the floods – said despite his attempts to seek answers from the authorities, he remains clueless. Emphasizing that the farmers need answers, Halley said they are unable to
farm due to lack of resources.
“Is time for we to plant back but we ain’t get no money to buy seed paddy,” Halley said while noting that the last crop as so bad, that he damaged his tractor while trying to harvest.
“They get people who plow their land but weren’t able to plant because the flood was so much, and now when they come to verify, they are saying that they cannot give us money for that. And then they get people who plant, but the water come so much that the plant
themselves got so fine in the rice field, and so much bush grow that you couldn’t have even control it,” Halley explained.
Thirty-five-year-old Mohamed Adam, a rice farmer who hails from Dundee, Mahaicony, told reporters that he too is affected. “We come out here out of frustration, we don’t know the future of the rice game that we are in. It is not an easy task to be in the sun doing this, so we
are calling directly on our President, Dr. Irfaan Ali to look into this. We are frustrated,” Adam lamented.
He said farmers in the area are awaiting financial assistance to repair their equipment. He too complained that while he submitted his name to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the Agriculture Ministry had no record of it.
“We are trying to do what we could, but how much can we do. We are already suffering so much. We need some desperate help here, and we are asking for help,” Adams said.
Another farmer John Simpson said some farmers also lost their livestock. “For example, I lost over 100 chickens, my pen get flood out,” he pointed out. According to Simpson, his chickens alone valued approximately $100,000. “It is sad that they are bypassing us,”
Other farmers complained that while they were asked to pump water out of the main canal as a result of the flood, they are yet to be compensated though they were promised by the Agriculture Ministry that they would be refunded for the fuel utilized. “We took money
to purchase fuel to pump the water and now you’re not hearing anything about payment,” one farmer complained.
On Saturday, one of the farmers told Village Voice News that another batch of names were submitted, however, it is unclear if or when they will receive the flood-relief cash grant.