Maria’s Lodge to get all-weather road, agricultural support

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha engaging residents and farmers of La Harmonie, Catherina Sophia and Maria’s Lodge on the West Bank Demerara

Residents in Maria’s Lodge, La Harmonie, Catherina Sophia, and surrounding areas will soon enjoy better access to farmlands, homes, and schools as an all-weather road is slated to be constructed there.

The first mile will begin construction shortly, boosting transportation options for residents and farmers alike.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha held a community meeting in the area on Saturday, where he made this and other commitments.

This meeting is a follow-up to several previous engagements, where the minister pledged to develop some 200 acres of pasture to support cattle rearing.

The farmers will also receive planting materials, free of cost.

The residents thanked the minister for his continuous interventions and were all eager to see the implementation of the all-weather road, as it would bring great relief.

One resident, Christopher Singh, who is a coconut farmer, told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that these interventions auger well for the development of these communities.

“The access road here, because this piece here is bad, some persons usually have to cross the river to get to work. So, when this mile is complete, it will help those persons,” he said.

Like Singh, Isaac Sarju believes that the area is poised for massive development. He said that over the past two years, the agriculture minister has been extremely instrumental in helping to improve the lives of residents in the area.

“We’d like to thank the minister for the commitments he made to us, and for delivering on land clearing, drainage, and irrigation. Now he has promised us an all-weather road…and it’s a great help to the people in this area here, in terms of our livelihood, our livestock, and farming in general,” he explained.

With a herd of 25 cattle, Sarju also divulged that the minister’s pledge of new grazing lands would be a big help to him.

“He [the minister] promised us that he will help us with different things, and I want to thank the minister and the government for assisting the farmers in this area, and we welcome it,” Sarju said.

Similarly, Vicky Clenkain, who has been living in Catherina Sophia for over 20 years,  said that the road and other commitments made by the minister will empower residents, promoting greater ease of business.

“We’ve been suffering a lot with the road, especially in the rainy weather. Now, with the dry weather it was better, but with the rain, we had a terrible time. Sometimes not even a motorbike could ride on this road. So, we are really thankful for the minister saying they’ll do the road because it will benefit the whole community,” he shared.

Clenkain further noted that with the closure of the Wales Estate under the previous administration, many persons were unable to sustain themselves and their families. He said that the government’s interventions have been helping in this regard.

“A lot of people, who couldn’t elevate themselves by buying things like vehicles and such could do it [when we have the road]. The cattle farmers would be able to bring out our animals…so we are thankful for these things because whenever he comes to the community and whatever he promises us, they fulfil it on their part,” he divulged.

Meanwhile, Minister Mustapha outlined ongoing initiatives to support local farmers, noting that of the promised 200 acres, almost 120 acres have already been completed.

“As I am speaking now, the land is being developed, the machinery is there. Also, the grass is being planted, and we will fence it. So, they will have 200 acres of land to rear their cattle. Also, we will help them with some breeding animals. Simultaneously, we are doing the land clearing,” he stated.

The agriculture minister assured that the officers from his ministry and various agencies will continue to work closely with the farming community to ensure that optimal production continues.

“I am contemplating that if they can have the amount of produce…then we can also build a small agro-processing facility here so we can help them to package their produce properly and at the same time make it more value-added,”  the minister disclosed.

Other concerns related to water and electricity were also addressed. Minister Mustapha committed to following up with the Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, to address water woes, and the Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, regarding electricity.

He also reminded residents that with the gas-to-energy project set to come onstream in 2025 in Wales, they will also soon have access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity. [DPI]