West Berbice villagers setting up cash crop farm

Guyana Chronicle
March 28, 2003

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SOME 200 residents of Hopetown and Bath Settlement villages on the West Coast of Berbice are working together to establish a 50-acre cash crop farm project at Fort Wellington.

The villagers are organised into the Bath Experiment Community Development Council (CDC) and the Fort Wellington Hopetown Bel Air Charity Association

(FHBCA). The area being used is the coconut plantation alongside the public road, north east of the office of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) at Fort Wellington.

Mr. Krishna Sewlall is Chairman of the CDC, while Mr. Asquith Hamilton is President of the FHBCA. Leaders of the groups told the Chronicle that the main aim of the massive cash crop project is to assist members to earn revenue and to generate employment opportunities for the unemployed in the area.

With the consent of the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) and the RDC of Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice), members have each been given holdings of approximately one quarter of an acre to cultivate cash crops such as boulangers, cabbages, tomatoes, eschallot, and watermelons.

Sewlall said his group comprised some 156 residents of the Bath Experiment area. They had already cleared a large acreage of land and had dug an irrigation channel leading from the sideline trench east of Fort Wellington into the farming area.

Members had also erected a fence running parallel to the public road to protect the cultivation areas from stray livestock. Some have already begun planting crops but the majority of them plan to go into full-scale cultivation before the commencement of the May/June rains.

Sewlall said that most of the preparatory activities completed so far were funded by members of the CDC. His group had also received gifts including a "walking tractor" from the Ministry of Agriculture and a variety of seeds.

They have been promised consideration for financial or other assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Hamilton said his group is the Local Chapter of an organisation of former villagers now resident in North America and Europe. The group had also completed various preparatory activities on land adjacent to the acreages being cultivated by the Bath Experiment CDC.

Several of the body's 50-odd members are already occupying plots and they are in the process of starting their fence and irrigation channel.

Both Hamilton and Sewlall confirmed that the two groups working alongside each other would cooperate fully and give each other mutual support.

Sewlall said that Minister of Crops, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh, has given the project his blessings and is likely to visit the site next week. (CLIFFORD STANLEY)

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