Drought threatens agriculture sector

GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Drought conditions caused by a lingering El Nino, is threatening to cause billions of dollars in damage to the agriculture sector.

Like other countries in the region, Guyana is struggling with water shortages and Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud said the resultant losses could be around GUY$3 billion (US$14.7 million).

Persaud said his ministry is aiming to minimize losses by ensuring that water is being provided where it is needed.

“So far, we have close to 10,000 acres of rice land under stress; we have cattle, too, going through some very difficult conditions; we have some acreage in terms of crops under pressure…in the hinterland areas where they did not get rains.

“Across the country we have mobilized resources and local officials in all the regions to try and work very closely with farmers…to develop the type of system that we need so that we can respond, address, provide the type of assistance in all the areas,” said Persaud.

It is currently costing the ministry approximately GUY$3.2 million (US$15,709) per day to operate pumps and conduct other works. Since the drought conditions started, government has spent in excess of GUY$250 million (US$1.2 million) in infrastructure works to support farmers countrywide with GUY$49 million (US$240,549) allocated to hinterland locations.

Persaud said although the ministry had been investing in drainage and irrigation, its resources are overstretched and that farmers need to understand resources need to be shared during the drought.


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