AS distribution of the government’s flood-relief cash grants continued in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) on Saturday, another $67.1 million was distributed to 361 farmers from Leguan and Wakenaam Islands.
Ninety-one rice and cash crop farmers in Leguan received a collective $29.5 million, while the $37.6 million distributed at Wakenaam was shared between 270 cash crop, livestock and rice farmers.
Having lost more than three quarters of the produce on her three-acre farm due to the May/June floods earlier this year, 57-year-old Rajpatty Dhanaat, a diabetic, has been struggling over the past few months to not only sustain herself but to pay her medical bills.
As such she could not stop praising the assistance she was able to receive from the government through the flood relief grant. Dhanaat was among 219 cash crop farmers from Wakenaam who received assistance. Speaking with the Sunday Chronicle, Dhanaat shared that she recently had her toes amputated due to her condition so it has really been a tough year for her.
“I’m a diabetic and [my] husband is a pensioner, and we plant three acres but three quarter did flood out. I [was] so miserable because me nah get money to go to the hospital so I stop go for a long while but then I start go back again lately.
“So right now I am more than thankful that the government can help me with this lil assistance. May God bless the government so that we can get more,” Dhanaat shared moments after collecting a check.
Distribution of the flood relief grants on the two islands was marked by the presence of Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, and Region Three Member of Parliament, Deodat Indar. Indar was also accompanied by Regional Chairman, Inshan Ayube.
Also in Region Three on Saturday, Minister of Agriculture, Zulkifar Mustapha oversaw a series flood relief distribution in Wales, Patentia and Vive-la-Force. The distribution follows an initial $37.8 million having been distributed on Friday to several communities along the Essequibo River, when distribution commenced in this Region.
The recipients of the assistance are all farmers who would have suffered losses during the May/June floods, which was caused by unprecedented rainfall across the country.
For several of the farmers the floods destroyed dozens of acres of produce leaving them in dire financial crisis. Young rice farmer Mohammed Razack, from Leguan, lost almost 50 acres of rice, and has since had to cut back on how much he invests in his farm.
“I used to plant 100 acres but I could only plant like 15 acres this crop. The land them get bad. I didn’t even get half my rice last crop, some rotten out and the combine couldn’t even go into the field. Thankfully I get the D&I excavator to take the combine out the field,” Razack shared.
To get by over the past few months, the 37-year-old father of one said he was forced to sell some livestock; some of his animals died as well. He, nonetheless, commended the community and government agencies which came together to assist farmers over the past few months.
“Everyone tried to be helpful in Leguan. Everybody just chip in but there is just so much you could do due to the weather,” he said.
Having gotten involved in rice farming ever since he finished school, Razack said he cannot give up on the trade and has to do whatever he can to make it work. For him, the cash grant gives him financial assistance and renewed hope in being able to weather the storm.
“Since I finish CXC, I planting rice. But rice work is a hard task and when you can’t get a crop out it’s very hard. So this assistance will boost me up to go back into the next crop. Sake of this flooding, the last time I didn’t plant all my land them back this crop, but now, if the weather favourable for the next crop, I would prepare back the land and go again. It is a great pleasure for me to receive this cheque from the government and I have to thank them,” Razack told the Sunday Chronicle.
Cognisant of what the farmers have been going through, Minister Indar and Chairman Ayube made brief remarks during the distribution exercise and offered the farmers words of encouragement, assuring them of the government’s commitment to farming, and reminded the farmers of the pivotal role they play in the country’s economy.
“We understand the importance of the agriculture sector and we will not leave you out in the cold. So we are here to give you this money to help you get back on your feet. I just want to say to you how important you are to our economy and to our daily lives as well,” Minister Indar said.
During the distribution, Minister Indar also explained that any farmer who was missed during the initial assessments and not included on the list to receive a grant, would still be given the opportunity to speak with a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture and be able to receive their assistance.
Outside of receiving the grant, the residents were also given the opportunity to speak to the minister and the regional chairman about issues affecting them in their communities.