— as two more engineers from India arrive in Guyana
–plans for new agricultural lands discussed
MOBILE and fixed heavy-duty drainage pumps, which were procured under a line of credit financing of US$4 million from India in 2020, are in the final stages of installation.
The status of this and other projects were discussed on Tuesday, when Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha met with High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr. K.J. Srinivasa.
Minister Mustapha informed the ambassador and other officials of the high commission that he met recently with the contractor from India and was given an update on the installation of those pumps.
“I met with the contractor about a week ago. There were some issues that were brought to my attention. I raised them with him and he assured me that by the first week in February, we can have all these pumps fixed and working. When that happens, we will be able to move ahead with commissioning the pumps,” Minister Mustapha said.
Counsellor at the Indian High Commission, Vijayakumar Kizhapate, while providing an update on the installation of the pumps, said that additional engineers have arrived from India to ensure the pumps are fully operational within the given time frame.
“We have installed three mobile pumps at Ruimveldt, Sussex Street and Cowan Street. The other fixed pumps; two pumps were installed at Devonshire Castle and Hampton Court, one at Hope, and one at Nootenzuil. There were some minor issues. Last Saturday, we brought two more engineers from India and they are taking care of those issues. Yesterday, they said things are coming along alright and that by this week all those minor issues should be resolved,” Kizhapate said.
Minister Mustapha said too that with the government working on developing a comprehensive plan for a complete upgrading of the country’s drainage system, this year’s budget should see allocations being made to acquire additional drainage pumps.
“I’m optimistic that, with the new budget, more funds will be made available to acquire additional pumps because, around the country, there is a need for more pumps. Quite frankly, if we are to properly upgrade the country’s drainage capacity, we have to make these types of investments now,” Minister Mustapha said.
OPENING NEW LANDS
Minister Mustapha also informed the delegation that his ministry is working towards increasing and improving Guyana’s agricultural production over the next few years. This, he said, will be done through the development of new areas earmarked for agriculture.
“There are a lot of areas that will be developed for agricultural purposes and we need to have proper infrastructure in place. For example, I plan to start work on developing the second phase of the MMA Scheme. If that happens, over 100,000 acres of land will come under cultivation. So we’ll need proper drainage, proper irrigation and additional pumps to boost the system. In Essequibo, there is a project that was supposed to start a long time ago called the Aurora Agriculture Development Project.
“I’m looking to start some work there so that we can make lands available to persons interested in farming. During my first outreach to Essequibo when I became Minister, persons were asking about government’s plans for the Project and I assured them that it is something we were actively pursuing. In Berbice, the Canje area and the Cookrit Savannah; we’ll need a lot of work to be done in those areas. I also want to start zoning these areas,” Minister Mustapha reasoned.
Further, instead of having cattle and rice together, which usually results in conflicts with the farmers, the minister wants to zone areas to ensure cattle rearing has a designated area and rice cultivation has its designated area.
The creation of such agricultural infrastructure has to be supported by additional drainage pumps, Minister Mustapha said.
“In cases where it is possible for us to do the outfall close to the Atlantic Ocean, we’ll do so because then the siltation will be minimal; but if it’s a far distance, we’ll have to depend on the pumps,” he explained.
Minister Mustapha, along with Dr. Srinivasa, will be conducting another assessment of the newly installed and existing drainage pumps in Georgetown within the coming days.