Special teams to help fight dry weather impact
Guyana Chronicle
January 8, 2002

REGIONAL teams to be headed by the Chairmen of regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six are to be set up to help farmers and others cope with the impact of the prevailing dry weather, the Agriculture Ministry announced yesterday.

This was part of the plan drawn up when Agriculture Minister, Mr. Navin Chandarpal yesterday met the Regional Chairmen and representatives of several agencies as concern grew over the effects of the continuing dry spell, especially on agriculture.

At the meeting were representatives from the National Drainage and Irrigation Board (NDIB), the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the Guyana Rice Producers Association (RPA), the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), the Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners (GS&WC), the Guyana Water Authority and the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA).

The regional teams, which will have representation from the NDIB, GRDB, RPA, GUYSUCO and the MMA/DA, will be coordinated at the central level by the Ministry of Agriculture.

At yesterday's meeting at the ministry, Regional Chairmen pledged their full cooperation to inform and sensitise all those who use irrigation water about the prevailing conditions and steps to be taken by the Government, the ministry said.

It noted that higher demands for irrigation water may result in salt water moving upriver and farmers need to exercise caution when utilising this water.

Should the need for water become critical, farmers are strongly advised not to destroy any drainage and irrigation structures such as dams, sluices and creek controls as this will only reduce the capacity to supply the much needed water.

GUYSUCO, the ministry said, has indicated that water conservation is being carried out by re-circulation and other users should do likewise.

Sea sluices should remain closed to conserve water, the ministry urged.

In view of the current adverse weather condition and its likely extension into the coming months, the use of the water from the conservancies and fresh water pumping from the rivers should assume paramount consideration, the meeting agreed.

The meeting discussed in detail water conservation, judicious use of water, augmentation of conservancy storage, river pumping, full utilisation of pumping capacities, public awareness and coordination.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the drainage and irrigation systems control the flow of water in the rivers and creeks so that in the rainy season, water is disposed of to the sea and rivers as necessary, or stored where conservancies are available.

The main conservancies are in Region Two - Ituribisi, Tapakuma, Capoey and Mainstay; in Region Three, the Boerasirie; Region Four - East Demerara; Region Five - the Abary.

The NDIB has 14 mobile water pumps. These are located in Region Two, one in Region Three, four in Region Four, one in Region Five and five in Region Six.

Five more mobile water pumps are under procurement, the ministry reported.

It said efforts will be instituted so that the fixed pumps remain in working order.

These pumps will be appropriately used to augment the irrigation supplies.

For irrigation of agricultural lands, Region Six is served by the water that is pumped from the Canje River and conveyed to the point of use by a network of canal systems, the ministry said.

The irrigation in the Mahaica-Mahaicony area depends on the flow of the respective rivers and the Essequibo Islands are fully rain dependent, it said.

At yesterday's meeting, Chandarpal emphasised that the planned agricultural production targets need to be met and told those gathered that the water needs of the different users could be met if "suitable strategies" were implemented.

Chief Hydrometeorological Office, Mr. Dillip Jaigopaul informed the meeting that the November-December rainy period produced less than half of the normal rainfall.

During January to May, reduced rainfall is also expected. (NEIL MARKS)