By Vishani Ragobeer
President Dr. Irfaan Ali has announced that farmers in Region Two (Pomeroon- Supenaam) will benefit from millions of dollars in relief that will be spent on drainage and irrigation works, as he seeks to provide some assistance to the region.
The President made this announcement while he was engaging farmers and other residents at the Rice Producers Association (RPA) bond in Anna Regina on Friday.
On Friday, President Ali told these residents that the entire cabinet will spend the next two days exclusively serving the people of Region Two, with a keen focus on listening to their concerns and issues.
As part of this outreach, he highlighted that specific attention will be placed on the agricultural sector and the people connected to this sector since it is an integral part of the regional economy.
The President emphasised: “… one of the important things from this meeting is to come up with an agenda for action so that we can move forward.”
Dr. Ali and a team of cabinet ministers, other government officials and technical staff spent about three hours listening to the concerns of the farmers and other residents. Chief among these concerns was the drainage and irrigation works that were needed in the region to help safeguard agricultural produce.
To this end, Member of Parliament Dharamakumar Seeraj told the gathering that while much of the region was saved from the brunt of the recent nationwide flooding, it is still experiencing some unusual rainfall.
“… for the month of August, we had 18 days of rainfall in a month that we don’t normally get rainfall,” Seeraj stated.
Many of the farmers agreed with him. And one farmer lamented that a particular area, Dredge Creek and a nearby canal, was sorely in need of drainage and irrigation works.
The President, however, announced some $46 million will be spent on those works in that area; noting that tender for this project was recently awarded and it is expected that works will commence soon.
Beyond this relief, the President said that all of the concerns from the farmers and other residents would be developed into an agenda of action to be implemented soon. In a bid to ensure transparency, too, he said that this agenda would be posted at the bond for all to see.
And, this agenda is expected to identify priority areas that require investment to further stimulate the agricultural sector, particularly rice.
Meanwhile, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh told the residents that the agriculture sector is Guyana’s most important sector outside of the oil and gas field.
Importantly, he said that the government will be striving towards the economic diversification that Guyana has long endeavoured towards.