Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha recently established a taskforce to closely monitor developments in flood prone areas in Guyana. The move was prompted after the Hydromet Department recently issued an advisory alerting fishermen and other persons residing on the Coast of instances of high waves coupled with above normal tides in addition to the increase in rainfall.
The taskforce, which comprises a number of technical officials from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six, is mandated to report instances of flooding, heavy rainfall and breaches in sea defences and drainage and irrigation structures along the Coast and other low-lying areas.
Minister Mustapha said given the seriousness of the advisory and Guyana’s geographical position, it was important to have a team in place.
“We are currently experiencing extreme rainfall as part of our November – January rainy period. The Hydromet Department also forecasted high waves and above normal tides. With all this information at hand, it was critical for me to establish this taskforce so that information about what is happening on the ground can be filtered across the sector in a timely manner. I’ve also instructed our regional engineers and other officers to provide daily reports about rainfall in their respective areas and how it is affecting persons and their farming activities,” Minister Mustapha said.
The subject Minister further disclosed that the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has been working with Regional Officials to conduct some works to ensure drainage channels in several farming communities are cleared. This, the Minister said, would improve the drainage capacity in these areas should there be any occurrence of flooding.
Additionally, a team from the Ministry is currently working with cash crop and livestock farmers who experienced losses recently as a result of flooding due to heavy rainfall. During a visit to flood affected areas in Black Bush Polder, Minister Mustapha reaffirmed Government’s commitment to assisting farmers who were affected and instructed officers from the Guyana Livestock and Development Authority (GLDA) and National Agricultural Research Extension Institute (NAREI) to conduct assessments in these areas so that some form of assistance can be given to the farmers.
“We cannot give you cash. What we can do is offer assistance in the form of seeds, fertilisers and other planting materials. The officers are here and they will be collecting and verifying your information so that we can start distributing the materials we have to the farmers,” Minister Mustapha said.