(GUYANA CHRONICLE)Relief for farmers…
FARMERS in the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary (MMA) Scheme will soon benefit from a waiver on land charges as the government continues its efforts to cushion the effects of the rainy season, and the rising cost of living throughout the country.
The announcement was made last Wednesday by the Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo during a meeting with rice and cash-crop farmers at Onverwagt, in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).
During the meeting, farmers raised several issues, one of them being the land and drainage and irrigation charges they have to pay.
One farmer said that he is finding it difficult to make his payments, especially during the during the rainy season, since he has suffered extensive losses.
“We have weather what we cannot control; excessive rainfall. And due to the losses of our crop, I am planting mostly in the Abary; the MMA area. We lost some rice; the minister knows. We had some help, but from since then, we land never dry.”
The farmer explained that following the devasting floods of 2021, and the ongoing rainy season, over 50 per cent of the lands in the MMA scheme have seen an excess accumulation of water on farms, making it hard to cultivate.
He noted that some farmers are also having difficulty accessing their farms, and despite this, they still have to pay land charges.
“Production is higher than the selling price. We used to pay $4,000 a day for labour; it gone to five and six. Fertiliser $4,500; now $13,000, $11, 000,” the farmer said, adding: “Over 50 per cent of the land is inaccessible, and we are kindly asking the Minister of Agriculture and MMA authority that the land that cannot be cultivated to waive the charge.”
The government recently allocated $1B in free fertilisers to farmers throughout the country, and more than $7B to those affected by heavy rains last year, in addition to millions of dollars worth in planting materials, technical support, as well as the removal of VAT on agriculture inputs, machinery, and the reversal of unjust increases in drainage and irrigation charges to farmers.
Vice-President Jagdeo, in noting the concerns that were raised, said the government will waiver the land charges.
“I understand what you are saying now; how hard it is. We will assist through this period you asked for the charges to be waived on those lands, and so will move forward,” he said.
The Vice-President also noted that outside of the installation of several pumps to enhance the country’s drainage system to manage more water, the government will continue to invest in higher-yielding varieties.
“On the agricultural side, we have to find higher-yielding varieties. One way of getting you the cost of production is to get greater productivity of the sector. If you can reduce input cost by new technology, you can enhance output, which is higher levels production through new varieties or better yielding varieties,” the Vice-President told farmers.