Construction of major canal project in Region Three to commence soon – Agriculture Minister

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During a community engagement in Bagotville, West Bank Demerara, on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha revealed that the design for a massive Hope-like Canal in Region Three will be completed soon.

Minister Mustapha in a press release outlined the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s (NDIA) efforts to finalise the design, enabling the commencement of construction. He explained that these mega projects are aimed at improving the country’s drainage capacity.

“We have the Hope Canal on the East Coast of Demerara. That canal is what prevented flooding in Georgetown and on the East Coast of Demerara. We will be building similar structures in Regions Three, Five, and Six. Those canals will be high-level canals that can operate when the tide is up. Rather than having to channel flood waters through the system in the housing areas, we will be able to drain the water from the backlands directly into the river. That project will commence shortly. The design is being finalized and soon after the work will commence,” Minister Mustapha explained.

He also provided updates on the Canal No. 1 Pump Station, which is expected to be completed by the end of July, enhancing the community’s drainage system.

The minister further addressed residents and farmers, following up on issues raised during a recent public engagement with Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.

Minister Mustapha also urged residents to pay their rates and taxes, highlighting the necessity of their contributions for regional development.

“Some residents are guilty of not paying their rates and taxes. We cannot continue to work like that because when we look at the collection of rates and taxes, it is very low. It is less than 40% but yet, people want development. Over the years the government has been increasing subventions to the NDCs but residents still need to pay their rates and taxes,” he explained.

The minister informed farmers that the ministry will seek approval for funding in the 2024 budget to rehabilitate the farm-to-market access road in the area. He reassured farmers of ongoing investments to ensure the availability of adequate planting materials through the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).

“There is an ongoing transformation taking place in our country, and I encourage you all to work with us. Through NAREI, we’ll provide the necessary planting materials and we’ll also work to ensure you have the necessary tools to expand your production. The demand for planting materials is very high. We have eleven nurseries across this country but they cannot satisfy the demands because more people are coming into the sector. So, we are building a tissue culture laboratory that will have the capacity to produce millions of planting materials annually,” the Minister added.

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