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Guyana prepares for dry spell that could last until next year

Authorities were Thursday preparing to set up a task force to grapple with an impending drought caused by the prolonged dry spell that could worsen and last until next year.

Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder told a news conference that if there is no rain by December, the country would experience drought conditions due to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

“I think it is fair for us to say that although Guyana normally experiences two wet and two dry seasons per year, the short wet season which normally starts in the middle of November and goes to the end of January is probably threatened, so while things are okay at this point in time, the system might come under stress by the end of December if the short rains do not come, so we really have to start practising serious conservation,” he said.

Already, rivers, creeks and earthen wells in the Rupununi are drying up, causing the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and government to contemplate rushing emergency supplies to the area. Short-term cassava varieties are being imported from Brazil to take advantage of the limited water supply so that a crop could be reaped soonest before the situation worsens.

With the El Nino conditions expected to persist until the second quarter of next year,  Holder said the Ministries of Agriculture, Public Infrastructure, Indigenous People’s Affairs and Communities would coordinating relief efforts.

“We are expecting a 95 percent chance that the northern hemisphere will experience El Nino or dry conditions. This will continue for the remainder of 2015 and will probably last until the second quarter of 2016. Our farmers will be the ones most affected and as such we will be having a collaborative effect to address some of the challenges,” said the Agriculture Minister.

Speaking to the issue of the level of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC), acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Fredrick Flatts  was quoted as saying by the Government Information Agency that the water level is enough to sustain the different sectors until mid-December. He further explained that if conditions persist, steps will have to be taken to pump water into the conservancies through other sources.

 Present at the media briefing morning were the heads of departments of the various agriculture agencies; National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), Mahaica Mahaicony Abary /Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) Hydromet Office, Pesticide Control Board and a representative from the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI).