— farm-to-market road to open up vast farmland
THE construction of a farm-to-market road at Millie’s Hide Out, Linden, which will make accessible thousands of acres of farmland in the Intermediate Savannahs, is expected to significantly boost agricultural production in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice).
Region 10 is moving towards agricultural self-sufficiency and this project will enable farmers there to promote their businesses and market their crops more effectively, so as to meet the demands of residents.
It has been noted over the years that 70 per cent of Linden’s food consumption comes from farmers and vendors mainly in Regions Two, Three and Five.
The project is being executed by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and according to Regional Executive Officer (REO) Orrin Gordon, the Intermediate Savannahs are blessed with class-one and two-type soils, which are very fertile.
Currently, about 100 farmers along villages up the 45-mile route are producing, among other crops, red peas, corn, soya beans and citrus fruits on a large scale; but marketing of their produce remains a challenge, as the road is virtually impassable.
These villages include Sand Hills, Sand Dune, Kimbia and Microcubi. Cattle rearing is also a dominant feature in the region and the road will positively impact dairy production.
“It will significantly assist about 100 farmers with ingress and egress, because right now they are having problems; and it will also open lead way to other villages such as Mirocubi in the Mahaicony River,” Gordon said.
The entire project will be completed to the tune of $300M, but will be done in phases. Some $13.5 M is expected to be spent in the first phase of the project, which involves construction of some five miles of road, ending at Sand Dune.
In collaboration with other entities such as the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), about 600 metres of land will be cleared, de-bushed and graded.
The first phase is expected to be completed by June, with the clearing and widening of the thoroughfare. This will significantly improve the aesthetics of the entrance of Millie’s Hide Out, which is adjacent to the ‘Welcome to Linden’ junction.
Previously, the area was an illegal dump site. Gordon said several persons have expressed interest in returning and investing in the area of food production.
The availability of land through this project will help them in this regard.
This farm-to-market road project is only one of the agricultural self- sufficiency projects under the Regional Agricultural Programme.
Meanwhile, Derick Collins has been appointed regional agricultural officer and some $22.7M has been allocated from the 2019 budgetary allocations to his department.
Programmes to raise awareness on the importance of agriculture will be initiated and technical and material support in the form of training, seeds and tools among others, will be given to those going into farming. Priority will also be given to the establishment of shade houses, seven of which will be established in secondary schools.