Threat to rice in BerbiceWeeks after being deprived of vital irrigation to farmlands, some 2000 acres of farmland in areas along the East Coast of Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) remain in danger of depletion due to discontinued access to a canal that is managed by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). Guyana Times reported the plight of 20 farmers in Bolam and Palmyra, Berbice who noted the urgent need of water for their rice fields, which are cracking after GuySuCo shut off the water supply. The farmers indicated that were relying on rainfall to start the crop but after the change in season, the canal which normally supplies to them was closed and this prompted much concern.Agriculture Minister Noel Holder in an invited comment on Saturday briefly stated that he was aware of the situation and referred this newspaper to a Government official in the region. However Guyana Times was able to ascertain that GuySuCo and the National Drainage and Irrigation (NDIA) have been engaging in discussions to work out which entity will assume responsibility for drainage works following the closure of the Rose Hall Estate.According to information received, one of the strategic pumps that operates at that entity is reportedly not operational following Rose Hall’s closure.“NDIA would need to take over these pumps at some point but this hasn’t happened as yet. GuySuCo was offering a lot of services and irrigation to the communities and now that they are shut, NDIA and GuySuCo have been having these discussions over the past few weeks,” a senior official in the region disclosed on Saturday.According to reports, officials at GuySuCo contend there is an area along the canal that is blocked with weeds. Guyana Times was however told by several farmers that they have an arrangement where they paid the Sugar Corporation $500 per acre to have water supplied to them. When contacted for comment, Region Six Regional Chairman David Armogan told this publication that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) is prepared to assist GuySuCo in alleviating the situation but observed that the pumps fall under the management of the Sugar Corporation.“I am very concerned about the situation because as far as I can remember, GuySuCo used to provide water for those farmers in the number 19 – Palmyra areas – that is the primary source of irrigation water, there’s no other irrigation system that presently exists. If GuySuCo does not supply them with water, it means that they cannot plant,” Armogan pointed out.The regional official added that he is collaborating with GuySuCo in an aim the resolve the depleted water supply. “They are moving to resolve but there is an area that is blocked and I don’t think they will be able to pump the water to reach there quickly. We got to put an excavator there quickly to clear the area so once the pumping starts; we can get the water flowing into the number 19 area,” he stressed. “I don’t think anybody in their right senses would allow 2000 acres of rice to go under; the rice is now under threat but in the event that the farmers don’t get water, then it would be damaged,” Armogan further noted. On Saturday, Guyana Times reported that the farmers decried the millions of dollars they invested going into the current crop which started late December in the height of the rainy season.