WITH works soon to commence on the main access road of Laluni, a small farming community on the Linden Soesdyke-Highway, farmers are in high spirits as they anticipate a big boost in their profits.
Earlier this month, President, Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali visited the community and announced that some $50 million in contracts will be awarded for the rehabilitation of the road.
These works will be done in two phases and will see members of the community being employed during the second phase.
Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle in a recent interview, citrus farmer, Shivnarine Singh, said, “I feel really glad, because first time the President came and we living at the back here and like no body don’t remember we, so I feel glad.”
Singh, who works on his family farm, along with his brother Roopnarine, expressed frustrations with the state of the main access road. He explained that he and his brother would make weekly trips to the Capital City, Georgetown, to sell their produce. A journey he describes as gruelling because of the ‘deep potholes and break up parts’ of the road. It has caused him to visit the mechanic regularly and cost him more than what he earns.
“The road right now is the main thing for we because, as farmers, we does punish a lot because of the road condition to go out,” Singh said, noting that: “We have a canter there and every now and then how the road so bad the spring does break and we does feel pressure because at the end of the day we don’t get back nothing on the farm because we does got to spend back money on the vehicle.”
Sharon (only name given), who, along with her sister make weekly trips to the market to sell their produce, expressed similar sentiments.
“The road, that is the issue we got in here right now and it a farming community so it’s hard and when the rain falls it’s very bad and we would glad to get we road,” she said.
The woman recalled that some rehabilitation works had been done in 2015; however, due to flooding and other factors of climate change, the road became severely damaged, making it hard not only for farmers but other commuters as well.
In the past, the woman disclosed that the tobacco company, Demerara Tobacco Co. Limited (Demtoco) would maintain the road but these works ceased when the company dissolved its operations in the 1980s.
“This here (farming) is what we depend on, this is our livelihood. We take our produce to the market,” she said.
Sharon, her brother, sister and father, own a small farm where they produce mostly citrus fruits such as orange, cherry and sorrel.
MORE AGRICULTURE INPUTS
For Credence Francis, a cash crop and citrus farmer in the community, additional inputs are needed for farmers.
“We do mostly manual work, we don’t have no tractor and those kinds of things and sometimes it’s hard,” Francis said.
He noted that while he welcomes the rehabilitation of the road, farmers are in need of greater support to boost their production as well as getting better prices for their produce.
Francis disclosed that some farmers would travel to the city markets to sell their produce while some would sell their produce to manufacturing companies; however, the monies they are paid for their produce is not sufficient.
“For example, some farmers would sell cherries for like $70 per pound to a company and that’s not plenty; we ask if they could raise it to like $100. If we get somebody to lobby for us that would be nice,” the man said.
To this end, Francis suggests that having a small processing facility established nearby the community could see farmers being more self-sufficient in adding value to their produce, as well as earning more for themselves.