— Minister Mustapha assures those affected by floods
AGRICULTURE Minister Zulfikar Mustapha has reaffirmed government’s commitment to addressing the needs of farmers, even as many farming areas across the country are currently inundated.
The minister made these comments while meeting with farmers from Moleson Creek, Crabwood Creek, Skeldon and Bushlot, Corentyne.
During his engagements, Minister Mustapha told those who were affected by flooding that government will ensure the necessary assistance is given, so that they can return to the land.
He also told those in attendance that much assistance cannot be given now to assist farmers with returning to the land, since most of the farming areas are still submerged.
“We are experiencing a national disaster. Over the last few weeks, we’ve experienced unprecedented rainfall. This is the first time in our country’s history we are experiencing this type of flooding. We’ve had major floods before but when you look around today, this flood is far more devastating than those experienced in the past, because all the regions in our country have been affected. The water might have receded in a number of residential areas, but in the backlands, the water level is still high. Persons lost cash crops, rice, livestock and they need help,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha, according to a release, also told residents that government has approached its disaster-relief efforts in a phased approach and that the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) has been offering additional services to affected farmers.
“We are now approaching this disaster in a phased approach. As a government, the most important thing for us to do now is to ensure people have food, medical supplies, and water to drink. The ministry has also been working with livestock farmers across the country. Feed and veterinary services are being offered free of charge to those who were affected. Farmers are also given assistance to move their cattle from flooded areas in the backlands to higher ground,” Minister Mustapha said.
He also said that farmers who are yet to benefit from those services should inform their regional extension officers.
While farmers from Moleson Creek complimented the efforts of the ministry in terms of executing much-needed drainage works in the area, requests were made for a machine to return to the area to complete the remaining works. Requests were also made for the ministry to hire temporary sluice attendants, as farmers would often have to operate the structures themselves.
Minister Mustapha told residents that all of the machines are currently deployed to several flood-affected regions, but committed to sending one back to complete the works when it becomes available. He also committed to ensuring sluice attendants are placed at the structures in the area.
Over in Crabwood Creek, residents said that although the minister and government had given certain directives, officials of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Water Users’ Association have not been working in the best interests of residents.
Several residents voiced concerns about the non-responsiveness of some of the staff at the NDC. They also said that the overseer has been neglecting his duties.
Minister Mustapha advised residents to write the relevant body to have their issues with the NDCs addressed. He also told residents that he would ask the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development to meet with them. As it relates to issues with the Water Users’ Association, Minister Mustapha told residents that an investigation will be launched by his ministry.
Meanwhile, farmers from Bushlot said they were not satisfied with the services being administered by the crop and livestock departments. Farmers complained that they are yet to receive the much-needed veterinary services being offered and sought the minister’s assistance to have a number of drains desilted.
The subject minister said that he was not satisfied with the level of service being offered by some of the extension officers in the region and told the respective heads of departments to ensure that those in need receive assistance. He added that there were over 50 extension officers in the region, so persons should not be complaining about not receiving assistance.