Pastures for cattle to be developed for farmers – Minister Mustapha
During meetings with farmers and residents from Bushlot, West Berbice, and Helena # 2, Mahaica, Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha committed to resolving several issues as it relates to the agriculture sector, a press release noted.
In response to complaints from farmers about cattle entering rice fields and other farmlands, Minister Mustapha said that pastures for cattle are being developed.
According to the release, Minister Mustapha informed farmers that the ministry, through the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary Agriculture Development Authority (MMA-ADA) and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), was working to bring more lands under cultivation and also to develop pastures for cattle away from cultivation areas within the scheme.
“Pastures are being developed so that we can work towards a better solution between cattle and rice farmers,” Minister Mustapha said.
The pastures being developed are expected to be completed within the next three months and that fencing materials have been made available to cattle farmers to secure their animals.
Minister Mustapha further told farmers that officials from the MMA are also working to address subletting as this is prohibited in the lease agreement.
“There are persons who have leases for rice land and are renting these lands to farmers. We are working to deal with this. These issues are also contributing to delays in the issuance of new leases because we have to investigate these matters.
“Nevertheless, we were able to distribute over 300 leases last year so you can see we are working assiduously to bring more lands under cultivation in the MMA Scheme,” Minister Mustapha is quoted as saying in the release.
He told the farmers that while it is the government’s responsibility, farmers must also work to develop the areas.
“You have to support the government so that the systems we put in place work. We already started to do a lot of farm-to-market roads in the MMA Scheme and we are working to make the scheme one of the most productive schemes in this country. Our capacity now is about 100,000 acres of land available for rice cultivation. The plan is to develop another 50,000 acres for cattle rearing.”
One resident also raised an issue about the deplorable state of one of the access dams while other farmers requested access to breeding rams to develop their flock. While responding to those concerns, Minister Mustapha said that rehabilitation works on the dam is expected to commence shortly and that flock rams will be made available through the GLDA.
Meanwhile, during the meeting with farmers from Helena #2 Village, the minister was told that contractors responsible for executing maintenance on several canals within the village were not doing a good job.
It was later was discovered that the works were not completed according to the contractual specifications, and as such, the contractor was asked to rectify the job.
Minister Mustapha told the residents that contractors will not be paid if the works are not done according to the contractual specifications.
After consulting with the NDIA and the NDC, Minister Mustapha said that those maintenance contracts will be re-advertised and that beneficiaries will be given the opportunity to bid for them.
Farmers also made requests for upgrades to access dams and further consultation as it relates to the location of a drying floor that is expected to be built in the community.
He informed them that teams from the ministry will be meeting with all groups of farmers so that a programme can be developed to guide the process of resolving their issues. Farmers were also encouraged to identify a ranger to assist with monitoring activities and reporting them to the NDC.