-authority mulling legal action against farmers
FARMERS owe the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary Agriculture Development Authority (MMA\ADA) in excess of $1 billion in drainage and irrigation fees.
“One of the biggest challenges which we face, is that farmers are not paying their rates in a timely manner,” said General Manager of the MMA/ADA, Aubrey Charles in an invited comment, on Tuesday.
This, he said, is causing a big strain on the authority, in the sense that the entity is unable to maintain all the drains, canals and structures because of the limited resources which they have at their disposal.
“Every opportunity I have, I try to appeal to farmers to pay their drainage and irrigation charges…a group of farmers came in this morning (Tuesday) and pointed out the deterioration of some sections of the road network,” said Charles.
He informed the farmers that the maintenance of all the drainage and irrigation systems and the roads costs about $14 million per month. He said it is almost impossible to meet that target because farmers are way behind on their payments.
Despite the late payments, the authority is trying its best to repair the road network, particularly because of the troubles it presents to the rice farmers in the region.
“In Region Five rice farmers account for in excess of 45 per cent of the national paddy or rice produced and if farmers do not get their rice to the mills, it will have a chain effect on the national economy,” said Charles.
He said the ongoing efforts are proof that the MMA is trying its best to make the road accessible, but on the other hand, the authority is appealing to farmers to pay their charges so that more work can be done.
Once the dues are paid in a timely manner, the MMA/ADA could provide an efficient drainage and irrigation system, and develop a network of roads that farmers can traverse without hindrance. Although the authority is calling on farmers to pay their outstanding dues, they are not ruling out the option of legal action.
Charles said legal action is the authority’s last resort, but the authority is in the process of fine tuning a list of persons who would possibly be taken to court.
“We have been appealing to farmers. We have wrote them letters, but we have a list which we are fine tuning and those persons whose name appear on that list would be taken to court so that we could have money to run the system,” said the general manager.
The MMA is responsible for all drainage and irrigation work, and administration of all state lands in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).
Region Five is the only region where the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission does not have responsibility for the management and administration of state lands.
Charles said the construction of the drainage and irrigation work in the region also falls under the MMA. The authority has intention is to develop the entire area in three phases, with phase one being between the Berbice and Abary rivers; phase two, the Abary and Mahaicony; and the final phase between the Mahaicony and Mahaica Rivers.
Only one phase has been completed, but some amount of work was carried out in the other two blocks. In phases one and two, the authority did some amount of work in keeping with the macro plan for those two areas.