Canje floods destroy poultry, cash crops

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Flooded yards at Deutichem, East Bank Berbice

FLOODWATERS have affected poultry, cash crops, and rice fields along the East Canje and East Bank Berbice areas.
Residents of New Forest, East Canje on Friday woke up around 05:00h to their surroundings inundated and Parasram Beepat, a farmer, told Guyana Chronicle that he is involved in a pilot project which is aimed at cultivating onions and potatoes. Though the planting has not begun, the bags of fertilisers and limestone he had stored have all been destroyed as a result of the flood. Similarly, poultry farmer Ishwarant Bishram, was awoken by a telephone call informing him that his seven and 42-day-old chickens died in the floodwater.

Region Six Regional Chairman, David Armogan, just after inspecting affected areas at New Forest, East Canje on Friday

The farmers contend that the flood was not caused solely by heavy rainfall and according to Bishram, when he visited his poultry farm; he observed that the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) drainage pump was not functioning thereby preventing water from being pumped off the land.

The Guyana Chronicle understands that as a result of heavy rainfall and the spring tide, the Canje River has risen and overtopped into the village which resulted in the flooding. Given the circumstances, Bishram hired a tractor and pump to the tune of $4, 000 per hour to drain the floodwater off his land. By this time, he was only able to save 26 chickens.
Meanwhile, Mahase Rupert called ‘Vicky’, reported that his 200-acres of rice cultivation is also inundated. He told this newspaper that the two-week-old, second crop will be lost as the drains are blocked with overgrown bushes at his farm.

Poultry farmer Ishwarant Bishram

At Lightown, East Bank Berbice (EBB), cash crop farmer, Carlos Chisolm, opined that if the Crown Canal is cleared, water will recede faster, and crops saved. The farmer, who cultivates over five acres of lands, claimed that he lost many cash crops, including boulanger. This publication was told that a contract for the desilting of canals was awarded by the Regional Administration but the identified contractor lacked the required experience and equipment to get the job done. Three machines were reportedly sent to aid in the process but none were operational just after noon on Friday.

Another resident, Mohan Sookhoo, of Deutichem, East Bank Berbice said it is normal for the area to be flooded given the clogged canals. Sookhoo revealed that over 1500 rods of drainage was expected to be desilted before the May/ June rainfalls, but since the contract was given, just 500 rods have been completed.
Though the canals are clogged, sluice operator Ravi, (only name given) believes that the rainfall between Thursday night and Friday morning resulted in the flood. He explained that his shift should have concluded at 14:00h Friday but due to the flood, he was required to go over time to ensure the sluice is open.

One of the many inundated poultry pens in East Berbice

Regional Chairman, David Armogan, told reporters, he responded to a complaint of a poultry farmer losing approximately 1, 000 chickens as a result of the flood. “As a result, I decided to visit to see what was happening, I realised that that what has happened is that while there is some rainfall, it is because GuySuCo was using a pump to transfer water from one canal to another canal. However, because the level of the Canje Creek, is so high, the water rode over the dam then it flowed into the farmer’s pen which would have resulted in the birds’ death.”
The Regional Chairman said a number of other farmers have recounted a similar fate with many losing ducks, and citrus plants while many households have also been flooded. “Some people have water as high as 18 inches in their kitchen, and have resulted in the loss of appliances,” he stated.

A woman, known as Ms Beepat, wades through floodwaters on Friday at New Forest, East Canje, Berbice.

Armogan noted that while he is saddened by the farmers’ loss, “I do not know who will compensate them for their losses.” The affected farmers have since hired a tractor and pump to get the water off the land. That process is expected to last 24 hours. “I will contact the Regional Executive Officer (REO) to determine whether we can assist to pay for the pump at the cost of $4,000 an hour,” the Regional Chairman said, while disclosing that GuYSuCo had sent a hymac to assist building the dam, but sufficient work has not been done to remedy the situation.
The community of Black Bush Polder was also affected by 12 inches of water in residential areas.

Cash crop farmer, Carlos Chisolm, points to a flooded area on his farm