REGION One farmers are grateful to the government for implementing its $7.8 billion assistance to households and farmers affected by the recent floods.
Hundreds of households and farmers suffered losses following floods due to excessive seasonal rains, which started May 18.
President, Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali, spearheaded a national response, which was conducted through a coordinated effort among the Civil Defence Commission, Hydrometeorological Office and National Drainage and Irrigation Authority. Regional response systems were also engaged through the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. Several shelters were also erected for displaced persons and food and sanitation relief supplies provided. An assessment was then conducted to determine the extent of losses and the long-term support that persons would need to restart their livelihoods.
Joel George, a farmer of Hotoquai, told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that he is grateful for the initiative as the national disaster had left residents unsure about how to restart their farms.
“Our basic way of getting finance is farming. There is nothing else but farm here in Hotoquai. We do not go anywhere else, but we depend on our farms to produce things like plantain, ginger and other cash crops so that we can maintain our family,” he explained.
George added that while he heard about the disbursements on the radio, it is good to know that the government had devised a plan which will benefit the people.
“We felt glad about this because that (money) can at least assist or help we out with purchasing food item while waiting for the weather change. That way, we can start something else.” Naja Daniels, a farmer of Hobediah, said the flood destroyed her farm which not only affects her livelihood, but the lives of her children.
The mother of six said this national disaster has made her rethink how she should manage her business.
“I will be building back my farm because everything is gone. I do not have anything right now that I could save from my farm, so I decided that the money will be invested in my business to bring it back,” she said. Diana James, a farmer and mother of eight, shared similar sentiments.
“Things have been hard because we are poor people, but our farm normally helps to offset some of our costs even with the rainy season.
“During this season, there is flooding which always carries away the little produce we have… everything does rotten out and so I feel glad that the government would be able to help us,” she said.
Minister Nigel Dharamlall, in brief remarks, said the initiative fulfils the government’s commitment to its people, despite the challenges.
“Despite all of these challenges, under good leadership, we have been able to provide… All of these things are an act of nature, but our President has been able to find resources to help people to conduct their lives in a meaningful way. “Naturally, you would not receive for everything you lost but some people will receive substantially, so very soon that programme will be rolled out where cash will be given to these households and farmers.” On July 31, President Ali announced that over $7.8 billion has been earmarked to assist those who suffered losses during the national disaster.
Over 300 communities and 52,000 households were affected and the government secured $10 billion for flood-relief efforts. This assistance, however, would not exceed $10 million per farmer.
More than $3.5 billion will be transferred to homestead, kitchen garden farmers and to households that exclude the aforementioned farmers. It was disclosed that homestead and kitchen garden farmers would receive $100,000 and $50,000 each, respectively. Those with households would also receive $50,000 each.
Over $3.2 billion has been allocated for rice farmers as over 50,000 acres of rice land and 2,000 farmers were directly affected by the flood. Those who had rice ready to harvest will receive $80,000 per acre. Farmers who had sowed rice and lost their autumn crop will get $65,000 per acre and farmers with land completely prepared but not sowed will get $45,000 per acre.
Some 60,000 bags of seed paddy would also be distributed to those farmers. Since taking office, the government has outlined its plan to facilitate the growth and development of the agriculture sector to help Guyana to realise its potential as the ‘breadbasket of the Caribbean’. (DPI)