Farmers call for urgent dredging of Pomeroon River mouth
Farmers of upper and lower Pomeroon have called for the urgent dredging of the mouth of the Pomeroon River, improved drainage and irrigation and management of pest and diseases in coconuts and plantains.
These and other concerns including the provision of titles to lands which they presently occupy for planting were raised during a meeting at the weekend between the farmers and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The team, according to a press release was led by Permanent Secretary George Jervis and included, Chief Executive Officers of NAREI and NDIA, Dr. Oudhu Homenauth and Mr. Frederick Flats respectively, Senior Enforcement Officer, Pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board, Mr. Suresh Amichand and Chief Fisheries Officer, Mr. Denzil Roberts.
Representatives of the new Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), and the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Essequibo office were also part of the team.
The visit by the Ministry officials afforded farmers at key locations of the Pomeroon a chance to highlight problems affecting their livelihoods, as the team sought solutions to the problems.
Residents of the approximately 700 communities of Kabakaburi 16 miles up the Pomeroon River, raised problems with heart rot in coconut trees, the rhinoceros beetle, as well as diseases affecting bananas and plantains.
Farmers also called on the GMC for help in accessing markets for their produce.
In responding to the concerns, Permanent Secretary, Mr. George Jervis advised the kabakaburi farmers to work with the NAREI extension unit serving the Region 2 area in urgently addressing the problem of heart rot, as this could lead to the infection of nearby plants if not properly handled in a timely manner.
Plantain and Banana farmers were advised to form working groups to allow for a Central clearing facility where buyers can visit to purchase products from Kabakaburi farms on both banks of the Pomeroon river.
Other issues raised with the team included that of flooding as a result of poor decisions taken in the establishment of drainage and irrigation problems in the area.
According to one Councilor despite recommendations made by knowledgeable residents as to the placement of a key drainage canal – those responsible went ahead and constructed the drainage structure which they saw fit. The Councilor believes that this canal is causing the increased flooding in the farms.
In responding to the problems, Mr. Flatts has promised that Senior Engineers of his entity will visit the community to investigate the drainage systems and make recommendations as to how they can be remedied.
The team also visited another farming community at Aberdeen, approximately 16 miles downriver from Charity. Concerns raised included a plea for help from Government in addressing problems in the coconut industry, especially as it relates to the red palm mite.
The non-existence of land titles for more than 95% of lands in the Aberdeen area was also raised with farmers call.
Farmers were also assured that the acquisition of a dredger is catered for in the 2017 budget and is being specifically sourced for use in dredging the mouth of the Pomeroon river. Mr. Flatts informed that the dredge would not be available until the latter part of the year.
Other communities visited by the Ministry team were Friendship and Martindale.