first_imgRice farmers of Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) have said they stand to lose in the 2018 spring crop as a result of a possible low yield, and are blaming a delay in starting the pumps along the Canje River for what could be a poor rice crop.The farmers recently met with the Rice Producers Association and the Numbers 52/74 Water Users Association to address the late irrigation of lands which depend on the pumps at Manarabisi.Some 2000 farmers engaged in rice, cattle, cash crop and coconut farming on 15,000 acres of land are being affected by the delay in activating the pumps.President of the Rice Producers Association (RPA), Leeka Rambrich, said he had engaged the Water Users Association at the start of the month, explaining the urgent need for water. Four weeks later, rice farmers are being forced to meet with the association in person.According to Rambrich, the farmers are eager to go into the 2018 spring crop. “If they sew in January, it will force them to harvest in the latter part of May, and that might pose some problems in terms of harvesting during the rainy season. It would also affect them going back into the fields for the next crop,” the RPA President explained.Rambrich had said in October that arrangements were being made to have the three pumps at Manarabisi activated from November 1. The pumps are under the control of the regional administration.“Since the later part of October, I was in constant dialogue with the region to have the pumps start (working) on the first of the month, because Black Bush Polder started to get water on the twenty-sixth of October. The Chairman told me that they have contractors working at the pump station building some revetment, and so they will need some more time. He said the RPA spoke with the contractor on Saturday (and he) claimed that the revetment work was completed three weeks prior.”Meanwhile, Head of the Water Users Association, Castro Rajab, said three months ago he had addressed the issue with the Regional Administration, explaining that there were some breaches which needed to be sealed so that the water does not get to the savannah when the pumps are turned on.“That is what is holding us back….On Tuesday they got a contractor to seal the breach, and so that is completed…“Despite the request being made in September for the breaches to be sealed, the Regional Administration waited until November and awarded the contract as an emergency contract,” he charged.But according to the Regional Chairman, the delay was at the level of the Regional Executive Officer, who did all of the arrangements after being instructed ten weeks ago. He added that more worrying is the fact that the contract was given as an emergency contract to seal the breaches while at the time there was a contractor in the area with the required equipment to do the job. The contract was worth $13 million. (Andrew Carmichael)last_img read more