Farmers in the Moruca sub-district in Region One (Barima-Waini) were provided with technical knowledge in the agricultural field as the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry concluded a two-day engagement on Friday.The visit saw partnerships between the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and Brazil’s Stem Integrated Production in Agribusiness (SIPA) under which ground Robusta coffee and cassava flour would soon be produced and supplied to the local and international markets.The team was led by Minister within the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe. Some 50 farmers were educated on planting techniques and pest control methods to boost their current yields. Inter-cropping with several species of legumes was encouraged as a means of replenishing soil nutrients thatSamples being collected from a farm for analysiswould have been lost during cropping season.Minister Garrido-Lowe explained that these initiatives were economically viable since they would be value-added production, emphasising the successes of the Pakaraima Flavours sun-dried tomato ketchup.“The hinterland has great prospects in agriculture and tourism, and our people are willing to work to raise their standard of living and they are not afraid to try new things. The Pakaraima Flavours sun-dried tomato ketchup is testimony to that fact [that] our people are hardworking and when they make up their minds to do something for their benefit, they can deliver for themselves and others.”Meanwhile, NAREI Researcher Premdat Beecham asserted that based on observations, the communities were moving in the right direction, since the value of the produce had increased.“We need to move in that direction, since value addition is one of the most important things, because we cannot do without adding value to it and taking into consideration the schools’ feeding programme and the limited resources that we have in terms of commodities going into these areas,” he said.Meanwhile, SIPA Consultant Carlos Alberto De Medeiros stated that he was certain that both projects would succeed, since the climate and work force were excellent.Additionally, coffee specialist Walter Matadial pointed out effective organic pest control methods with specific focus on eradicating the Acoushi Ants.Soil samples were collected from each farm, and a complete analysis would be conducted. The results as well as recommendations will be forthcoming shortly. Meanwhile, both projects will be operating through a co-op society.The Moruca sub-district is strategically positioned to engage in significant economic gains and the coffee and cassava flour projects will be among other sustainable initiatives to change the trajectory of the lives of residents. Some 15 farmers from Santa Rosa Village are expected to be involved in the coffee project, while 35 of their colleagues will be involved in the cassava flour project in Kwebanna.
Timehri roundabout…Ministry was unable to recover advanceWhen Guyana’s first roundabout was opened at Kitty, Georgetown, Government promised it would open similar structures at other locations but at least one of these projects, the Timehri roundabout, has run into serious trouble even before it’s opened.According to reports, the contractor was given advance payments totalling $30.8 million, with $628,568 being paid to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) as Withholding Tax. The contractor, who was awarded the contract out of 11 bidders, was supposed to construct a single lane rural roundabout and bypass road.In Auditor General Deodat Sharma’s 2017 report, he revealed that he examined payment vouchers, contract documents and even paid the site a physical visit aThe project works that greeted State auditors on their visit to the sitefew months ago. Among his findings were that the works were incomplete and very much behind schedule.While the contractor had mobilised on site, at the time only excavation and general earth work had even started. And this was limited to two small sections of the existing roadway.The works were expected to be done at the existing two-lane road coming from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the four-lane highway.The AG also revealed that the advance payment bond, meant to be a security in case the contractor defaulted after being paid up front, expired since December 4, 2017. As of August 2018, only 19.5 per cent of the advance payment had been recovered.The structures are being constructed with the hope of easing traffic congestion and wastage of time at the peak locations.“It was discovered that no date was inserted in the signed contract agreement and as such, we were only able to determine that the contract was signed sometime in August 2017,” the report states.“According to the contract, the duration for the completion of the works was 24 weeks from the letter of commencement. However, at the time of reporting a total of 12 months had elapsed and the works were still incomplete.”It is understood that the contract for the project was awarded for the sum of $74 million below the engineer’s estimate.ComplicationIn its response, the Public Infrastructure Ministry explained that complications from removing utility connections in the area resulted in the delays on the project.“The contract time of 24 weeks had elapsed, and the works were not completed due to the complications that arose with regards to the removal of utilities from the work area, namely GTT (Guyana Telephone and Telegraph) and GWI (Guyana Water Incorporated).”“These issues arose and required additional $8.5 million to remove GTT utilities and $11.5 million for GWI utilities. These delays caused work to be stalled until June 2018.”The Ministry noted that the contractor is awaiting the removal of light poles. It acknowledged that the bond did expire and revealed that the contractor has been asked to renew same.The Auditor General recommended that the letter of commencement be submitted for examination and that the bond remain valid until advance payments have been recovered. It also asked for clarification on whether extensions were given to the contractor and what are the new completion dates.Works reportedly began on the Timehri roundabout back in June of this year, while Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson commissioned the $78.9 million Kitty roundabout, which was constructed by S Jagmohan Hardware Supplies and Construction Services.Minister Patterson had announced plans to construct two roundabouts, with the inclusion of the Timehri structure. The other is expected to be erected on Mandela Avenue, Georgetown.