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|El Nino weather expected in coming months|
|Monday, 02 July 2012 22:09|
-- MoA to prepare farmers to successfully farm during dry period
IN MONITORING weather conditions in Guyana, the Hydrometeorological Service of the Ministry of Agriculture continues to look at possible scenarios for the upcoming period. Having examined global models, the Hydromet Service advises that the emergence of El Nino (dry) conditions “by the end of summer” is indicated.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy reiterated this position in advising that Guyana should expect normal to below-normal rainfall in the coming months.
“July is expected to be near-normal in terms of rainfall. Long-term average for July shows that, normally, there are about 23 days of some rain in Guyana, and approximately a total of 306.2mm (12.05 inches) of rain in July,” he said.
The rainfall outlook for July 2012 is a 55% chance that rainfall amounts will be near this range; a 38% chance that rainfall amounts will be below this range; and an approximate 9% chance that rainfall amounts would exceed this range, according to Dr Ramsammy.
The probability of lower-than-normal amount of rainfall will continue to rise with each month, and this probability should dominate for the period September to February.
Over the next week, Dr Ramsammy will be holding special sessions with relevant technical officers in the Ministry of Agriculture and with relevant personnel in the regions, particularly in farming areas.
Minister Ramsammy said he would also be including officers from GuySuCo, the Guyana Rice Development Board, the Rice Producers Association, Fishermen’s Associations, cash crop farmers and cattle farmers to ensure everyone is prepared to successfully farm in dry conditions.
Unlike the period December 2011 to May 2012 -- when above-normal rainfall dominated weather conditions, and when the major concern was flooding -- farmers will be concerned about availability of irrigation water during this upcoming El Nino period.
Some farmers who have started the second crop of rice cultivation have already begun expressing concerns in this respect.
The Agriculture Ministry does not envisage farmers having major problems accessing irrigation water. “All irrigation pumps are in working condition, and we are monitoring their maintenance and availability of fuel. All irrigation canals are being monitored to ensure they are clean and that water flow through these canals is maintained unimpeded,” Dr Ramsammy disclosed.
There are some problems that the country will encounter over time. Some of these are already causing conflicts among farmers. Ramsammy noted that there are situations in which cash crop farmers have been cultivating on dams along irrigation canals; and have, in the process, lowered the levels of those dams. In such instances, water will overflow and destroy their crops.
“Examples of these problems have already been encountered in Region 3. We are working with these farmers to provide protection, but we will not always be in a position to save these crops. We, unfortunately, must maintain high water levels within the canals to ensure adequate flow along the canals, to provide access to water for all farmers,” he informed.
According to the minister, in some instances, farmers have placed tubes along the dams to drain water from their cultivation areas during rainy periods. Unfortunately, as water levels are deliberately raised in the irrigation canals, these tubes will represent a conduit for water to now flood the cultivation areas where cash crop farmers have inserted these tubes. Such tubes should have been inserted with doors, to allow outflows from the fields but prevent inflow into the fields. Some of these problems have already been encountered in certain areas.
The Agriculture Ministry appeals to farmers to cooperate.
The type of weather anticipated for the next several months should provide ideal conditions for farmers, Dr Ramsammy said. “But we can have situations which could create some conflicts and affect our production. I am hopeful that we can all work together to prevent these problems and conflicts,” he added.
The Agriculture Ministry will try its best to mediate these conflicts, and “we will try to facilitate better conditions for our farmers”, he added.
Moreover, Minister Ramsammy said the first half of the year was a relatively successful one for agriculture. “We had difficult weather conditions, but our production showed a successful first half. Weather affected sugar production and shortened our first crop, leading to a below-the-target performance. But we should more than make up for this with the weather (predicted for) the period from now to December.”
Rice faced major challenges from the weather, but the production by June 29th was more than 206,000 tonnes of rice, with some farmers still reaping their crops.
“Thus far, we exported 141,450 tonnes of rice, with a value of more than $US83M.
Similarly, we have increased production of various cash crops, particularly those that have become export products,” Minister Ramsammy said.
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