Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha on Thursday assured residents of Annandale, East Coast Demerara (ECD) that drainage and irrigation works would soon be completed to ensure communities are not affected by clogged drains or flooding.
During his engagement, many residents said there was a trench that needed to be cleaned urgently. They also said that their homes and the schools in the community are usually flooded when it rains because the internal drains in the community needed cleaning.
Minister Mustapha told the residents that although the government was coming to an end of its 2022 budget cycle, efforts would be made by the ministry’s National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to have some of the needed drainage works completed soon.
“A machine will be sent to the area in the new week to start the works and a team from the NDIA, the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), and the National Agricultural Research and Extension institute (NAREI) will come back to meet with you to see how we can advance agriculture in the community. We have to do an assessment of the community to see how best we can get the drainage works done. Many of the drains in the community are very narrow so it would be difficult for the machines to do the work but we will work with you,” Minister Mustapha assured residents.
He also said he would engage the Ministers of Housing and Water as well as the Ministers of Public Works to visit the area and meet with them.
Residents also raised issues about the fisher folk grant. On this note, Minister Mustapha told the fishermen present that the Fisheries Department was working thoroughly to have the verification process completed soon. While responding to the delay in the distribution of the grant, Minister Mustapha indicated that unlike the Ministry of Education, the Agriculture Ministry does not have a register of farmers and fishermen.
“We do not have a list of all of the fishermen in Guyana…When we announced that we would give the grant, many persons who are not fishermen started saying they were fishermen. We had a list and when we commenced the verification process, we received many reports that some of the names on the list were not fishermen. We are still trying to have a list that captures all of the legitimate fishermen because we do not want a repeat of what happened with the flood relief,” the minister explained.
He assured the fishermen that once all goes well with this round of verification, distribution of the grant could commence within the next two weeks.