In a letter to the editor on March 20, Ganga Persaud a rice farmer from Hague, West Coast Demerara claimed that GuySuCo has been hogging the available irrigation water from the Boerasirie Conservancy to the detriment of other users. The Conservancy extends from Potosi, West Bank Demerara to the Bonasika River on its western boundary and is intended to provide irrigation water for sugar, rice and mixed farming cultivations along its perimeter. Waramia is a relief sluice for the Conservancy and not a reservoir.
Management of the Boerasirie Conservancy and its resources rests with the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), a Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and not with GuySuCo. Therefore, NDIA decides how the available water in the Conservancy is distributed to all users including those in the declared Drainage and Irrigation (D&I) areas such as the rice growers at Hague, Tuschen and the mixed produce farmers at Parika as well as GuySuCo.
In foregone days NDIA directly managed the water distribution from its conservancies but in recent times it has delegated most of its authority to the NDC’s whose management skills leave much to be desired, causing ‘feast and famine’ with respect to the availability of water for rice farmers at critical times while GuySuCo a government-owned subsidiary appears to have first preference on water from the conservancies.
NDIA and its agents have the responsibility for the control, management and regulation of all the conservancies. As is evident, they have failed to carry out their mandate resulting in poor service for all users.
The full supply levels of the conservancies should not be drawn down by unused releases to lower levels without assured predictions of heavy rains to prevent overtopping since when the need do arise as is the current situation, insufficient water will be available at lower conservancy levels to meet the needs for all crops.
Pumping helps to top up the conservancies but it would be unable to restore sufficient gravity irrigation to the fields if it starts when conservancy levels are at dead storage.
Hence the plight of the farmers to get the water onto their fields without auxiliary pumping from the feeder canals as NDIA was too late in its primary pumping to provide them with gravity irrigation. Persaud needs some answers as to how the Boerasirie Conservancy is managed to provide a fair distribution of its water to all users. After all they are paying taxes for this service.