Hundreds of livestock and acres of rice lands on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) are under threat after salt water flooded the lands at Prospect, Glazier’s Lust, Columbia, Fairfield and Dantzig, Mahaicony.
The plots of land from the public road leading to the seaside in these areas are used mainly for rearing of livestock and rice farming.
The salt water started flowing into the fields during the current spring tide.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure advised on Wednesday last that the spring tide period will be from September 26 to October 2.
“Me get 50 head cow, them nah got nowhere to sleep, nowhere to [feed] nothing,” Kasarnauth Doodnauth told the News Room in a telephone interview Sunday.
Doodnauth lives at Glazier’s Lust. He said the water also flowed into the trenches and into the backdam where persons are cultivating rice.
“The salt water get into the rice field and they [the farmers] lose their crop…they were just like a few days away from harvesting their rice and this come and happen,” another farmer, Riyaad Bacchus said.
Bacchus is also a livestock farmer. He took over the business from his parents who started it over 50 years ago. He owns approximately 100 sheep and over 50 cattle; Bacchus has since relocated his sheep to the roadside since he does not have the space at his home to keep them. The cows are left to roam the fields in the salt water as he waits for farmers at the backdam to finish harvesting their rice crop so he can relocate the cattle to that area.
He is calling on the Agriculture Ministry to assist the farmers, noting that even after the spring tide, the fields will be of no use.
“Something has to be done there, where the cattle and so will [feed]?” he questioned.
“The land is for agriculture purpose and now that the salt water get in, it damage the land and remember is the grass at the savannah we use to rear the sheep and the cows…now the salt water will kill the grass,” he further explained.
Doodnauth earlier suggested that the authorities take action as soon as possible to reinforce the sea defence structure.
Padmawatie Jorree, another farmer of Prospect, Mahaicony explained that while some of the water entered the fields from overtopping, a part of the sea defence also collapsed making the situation worse.
She said, “since February the sea dam washing away and Friday afternoon it get worse…and yesterday (Saturday) the whole thing wash away.”
“It’s a terrible disaster…the whole place flood, the pasture is like a big ocean,” she added.
Jorree cultivates rice and also rears livestock.
She has already lost 30 acres of rice since the salt water causes the rice plants to die by disrupting the plants’ water absorption process.
Her 85 sheep are kept in her yard while the 20 cows are roaming the fields in the salt water.
Like Bacchus, Jorree said she is awaiting the completion of rice harvesting in the backlands so that the cattle can be moved there.
In July, parts of the sea defence at Prospect and Dantzig collapsed causing major losses to rice farmers in the area. The Ministry of Public Infrastructure sealed that breach but different areas of the dam which acts as a sea defence continues to collapse under pressure from the salt water during periods of high tide.
The highest tides are expected to be on Sunday September 29, 2019 at 4:38 pm at a height of 3.36 metres and on Monday September 30, 2019 at 5:18pm at a height of 3.32 metres.