Interventions saving crops threatened by drought in Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, February 26, 2010 – Efforts to save Guyana’s valued rice crop as the country tries to cope with the prolonged drought are paying off with GUY$600 million (US$2.9 million) worth of rice saved in just one instance.

Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud revealed yesterday that the crop was salvaged after teams from his ministry successfully constructed a 4.2 mile long canal to link to a main irrigation canal, enabling fresh water to be available to supply rice lands threatened by the El Nino phenomenon.

He said four excavators were mobilised and worked around the clock for this effort.

Through collaboration with the Ministries of Amerindian Affairs and Local Government and Regional Development, Persaud said, teams have also been travelling to the hinterland regions and will continue the venture in the coming weeks.

“The last two months alone the Ministry of Agriculture and technical staff would have conducted close to 130 such outreaches. These are important because we have taken the approach of working very closely with the farmers and those who are affected. Whatever interventions we do, these interventions are based on the advice and result of consultation with farmers and other stakeholders,” Minister Persaud said.

In addition to physical work, the ministry has been acquiring and distributing chemicals and pesticides, seeds and planning materials.

With animals also at risk, support has also been given to several herds of cattle with feed and veterinary supplies.
           
Minister Persaud also disclosed that the authorities were also considering waiving drainage and irrigation charges and were examining land rates. However, he said there would have to be a process of proper and careful verification of farmers to identify the most affected.

It is expected that the current rainfall trend will continue in Guyana up to early April, with higher probabilities of drier conditions.