Farmers from Victoria Village on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) will soon benefit from better access to their farmlands with the construction of an all-weather, farm-to-market.
This was disclosed during a Cabinet Outreach to the village on Saturday by Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha. The outreach was led by Prime Minister, Mark Phillips and was attended by several other Cabinet Ministers.
During his address to the large gathering which comprised farmers and residents from Victoria Village and other surrounding communities, Minister Mustapha said the ministry through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has commenced the process for the construction of an all-weather farm-to-market road so that farmers can have better access to their farmlands.
“This year, we’ll continue the development in this community. When I visited this community, you made a request for an all-weather road. I want to tell you that it has been approved and that process has commenced so that we can commence construction of that all-weather farm-to-market road in Victoria to take you to the farm. We’ll do one mile of all-weather road on the Victoria middle walk that stretches from the end of the housing area all the way up to the farming area,” he noted.
Minister Mustapha explained that the project was tendered and that the contract will be awarded soon. Once completed, he added that approximately 300 cash crop and other farmers will benefit.
Minister Mustapha also said that farmers from villages like Victoria along the East Coast have an important role to play in the government’s food security agenda. With Guyana playing that leading role in CARICOM’s food security agenda, Minister Mustapha said efforts will be made to ensure farmers are empowered to be productive.
“We are working to become food secure, and you the farmers on the East Coast of Demerara have to play a big part. We know, for a fact, that the East Coast (of Demerara) was once a very productive area in our country and we will empower you so that you can once again become productive,” he added.
During an outreach to the community shortly after assuming office, Minister Mustapha engaged farmers and conducted an assessment of many of the affected areas in Victoria. Farmers at that time had sought the government’s assistance with the restoration of agriculture-related activities citing years of neglect of critical drainage and irrigation infrastructure. The minister also committed to having emergency work done in the area.
Additional works were also done after engineers from the NDIA and extension officers from the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) conducted a needs assessment in the farming communities.
“When I became minister, Victoria was one of the first villages I visited because I know the agricultural history of the area. Farmers met with me and made requests for better drainage. Our engineers from the NDIA came and did an evaluation and we then desilted all the drainage canals in the community. Farmers also said that the sluice here needed rehabilitation.
We have since built a brand-new stainless-steel door at a cost of $22 million to install at the Victoria sluice. Today, that sluice is operable and you are getting drainage. We also, from the NDIA, allocate $17.6 million annually to the Golden Grove – Victoria Water Users’ Association for the maintenance of drainage and irrigation canals. So, you can see that we’ve been making resources available and we’ll continue to do so,” Minister Mustapha noted.