Problems besetting the wretched tillers of the earth
Read by Khemraj Ramjattan, AFC Presidential Candidate, AFC Chairman
On a daily basis Guyanese people are bombarded by propaganda by NCN and GINA on agricultural productivity in Guyana. However, a more in-depth analysis of the agricultural situation in Guyana reveals a bleaker picture. Provision, cash and citrus farmers in the locality of the Parika Back Dam have sought the assistance of the AFC in highlighting the myriad problems they face. These farmers’ produce, from approximately 2000 acres, supply the Leonora, Parika and Bourda markets.
First is the deplorable state of the road which stretches approximately 4 miles. In the first quarter of this year, it was laced with “crush and run” which cost millions of dollars. The road has already begun to rapidly disintegrate leaving farmers in much of the same frustration they endured earlier in the year. Farmers are severely challenged in transporting their produce to the respective markets.
Secondly, those unable to transport and retail their produce directly at the markets are forced to accept unfair and unprofitable prices from middle men. Farmers have said that they have not seen the GMC in this area for years.
Thirdly, farmers have said that they experience difficulty in procuring fertilizer because of its prohibitive cost. Recently, there was a fertilizer distribution exercise in the area. However, like anything else administered by the PPP, this exercise was fraught with major dubious practices. Fertilizer was reportedly distributed to all and sundry inclusive of taxi drivers who subsequently resold it to farmers. Additionally, farmers and their families have never experienced artisan well water (save for a hand pump that was installed in the vicinity in typical nineteenth century fashion); nor electricity in this area.
And as if this is not all, rice farmers within the No.52-74 Corentyne area have complained to the AFC about the destruction of the Water Users Association by the Regional Chairman, Mr. Zulficar Mustapha. His aggressive, abusive conduct and exhibition of political clout towards the Association has seen several resignations of the accountant and rangers. His promises to pay to clear up the canals, $200 per rod, have not been kept. Contractors who have completed work have not been paid. And a promise to keep a Hymac in the area was again not fulfilled when he ordered its removal to Albion.
These myriad problems have resulted in rice fields not being drained so that reaping can be maximized. Harvesters are unable to go in to reap. Over 25000 acres are affected. The situation with the dams have worsened as a result of a contract by the Regional Chairman being given to Peter Lewis who with a straight-blade grader at $15,000 per hour is ensuring a literal pond on the dam with mounds of earth at the edges. The Water Users Association had recommended the angle-blade grader at $13,500 per hour from Satya Agri, which cuts the dirt from the edges and builds the middle of the dam.
Thus while the Finance Minister showers himself with encomiums about meeting MDG goals and while extravagant sums are being raised to appreciate Jagdeo’s poor and sordid record, working class “Back Dam people” being out of sight, are out of mind. Thus, what we have in Guyana is a situation where those who produce and feed our nation are themselves living in oppression.