Drought threatening Guyana agriculture

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, February 15, 2010 – Drought conditions in Guyana, caused by a lingering El Nino, is threatening to cause billions of dollars in damage to the agriculture sector and officials say they’re doing all they can to, at least, limit the losses.

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).

He 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,” he explained during a visit to affected farming communities over the weekend.

“Across the country we have mobilized resources in all the regions and local officials 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,” Persaud added.

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.

Minister Persaud said that while 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 this difficult time.

Today, the Ministry will be conducting a second wave of assistance where dietary supplements, molasses, feed and veterinary assistance will be provided.

Source: www.Caribbean360.com