Profitt Village residents concerned about salt water intrusion By Clifford Stanley
Guyana Chronicle
October 13, 2002

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RESIDENTS of the predominantly farming community of Profitt Village on the West Coast Berbice, are disturbed by what they report as a growing volume of salt-water intrusion onto residential areas and agricultural lands in the village over the past seven days.

Residents complained that a breach in the sea defences, widening over the past two years, had grown bigger over the past week, leading for the first time, to the depositing of salt water on the farm lands north of the roadway and as far south as the residential area alongside the public road.

The area being flooded by salt water is a section of the village where villagers grow cash crops such as watermelons, nuts, greens and other vegetables.

"This is the only land in the village which is suitable for crops," one farmer told Chronicle. "That is how we make our livelihood here", he said, adding that the only sea defence for the village at the moment was an earthen dam, which is now rapidly eroding due to constant bombardment from the Atlantic.

Farmers at Profitt reported that they were already beginning to lose both crops and livestock as a result of the widening breach in the sea defences.

This situation is occurring now that the period for high tides has just started.

"What will happen to us when the high tides get into full swing," one of the farmers queried.

A spokesman said that several farmers and residents had dug deep ditches around their homes as a means of keeping the approaching salt water away from their immediate living area.

They are also calling for urgent action from Government to ensure that the entire area is not lost in salt water over the next few weeks.

Edward Scott, who has been farming two acres of cash crops in the area under attack on and off for the past 26 years, said that the breach had been developing over the past two years.

It had gradually developed from a small breach to the extent that the MMA/ADA sea dam had been washed away and that Agency had been forced to seal off its facade drain, which runs along the West Berbice Coast at that point, he said.

He remarked that Government had, in recent months, dealt with the breach by placing boulders at the areas, which appeared weakest.

Sea defence work by Contractors had included the removal of a huge cylindrical object, which had washed up on the shore at Golden Fleece earlier this year from that spot to the area at Profitt under attack.

Scott added, however, that as soon as one area was strengthened, another section would collapse.

"We need more boulders here," Scott said, adding, "if not, this village will become not only a difficult place to live in, but an agriculturally dead area".

He said that the advance of the salt water had forced several farmers in the area including himself to abandon their lands near to the MMA facade drain.

Scott said that residents had been waking up in the mornings to see salt water in their yards.

Livestock are dying out because there is no sweet water for them to drink.

His two acres of land on which he grows water melons, nuts, thick leaf callaloo, bora, tomatoes, pumpkins and other vegetables, are already severely affected by the salt water.

Camille Long, another cash crop farmer in the village said that she is currently preparing her cultivation plot for the upcoming rainy season.

She confirmed Scott's report on the widening breach and added that although she did not have any crops on the ground, the breach was currently creating problems for her since it had washed away the usual means of access to her farm.

"I have to go onto the seashore now in order to get into my farm. And I have to keep a close watch on the tide while farming or esle I could find myself in serious danger if the high tides catches me there before I leave," she said.

She is hoping that the situation is not allowed to deteriorate to the extent that she will have to abandon her farmland.

Mr. Wray Noble a spokesman for the farmers and residents said that he had attempted to meet with Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock Mr. Satyadeow Sawh late last week to discuss the situation but had been unsuccessful.

He said that he will continue to try to make contact with the authorities at both the Central and Regional Level.

Residents will also continue to make efforts to sensitise Government as to their plight and the need for urgent action to be taken to save the village from the intruding Ocean.