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Commodity Intelligence Report
February 28, 2012

Heavy rain and flooding in Guyana

Guyana has been hammered by continuing, heavy rain showers in many of the eastern regions. Starting on January 29, 2012 rain fell continuously for 24 hours. New Amsterdam in Region 6 reported 172.6 millimeters (mm) of rain in that 24 hour period. Other areas reporting over 100 mm in the 24 hours were: Friendship Buxton, Region 4 at 152.3 mm; Enterprise, Region 4 at 125.4 mm; Pine Ground, Region 5 at 138.4 mm; Wash Clothes, Region 5 at 116.2 mm; Bara Bara, Region 5 at 100 mm; Bush Lot, Region 5 at 152 mm; Foulis, Region 5 at 106.0 mm; and, D’Edward Village, Region 5 at 136.6 mm.

Flood waters continue to be diverted and high water pumped from rice and other cash crops in Guyana. Damage estimation continues in the wake of recent heavy rainfall starting on January 29, 2012 and continuing through a 24 hour period and into February. Some reports have surfaced on damages to rice, livestock and other cash crops, but a final determination on losses has not yet been established.

Figure 1. Clouds continue to bring the threat of rain to the already water-logged Guyana region.

The coastal areas have taken the brunt of the rainfall during the last few days of January and

into February. These heavy clouds were seen on February 14, 2012.

Rain continued on and off again after this first 24 hour deluge in much of the country. Continuing rains have snuffed out some crops. Farmers in eastern Guyana experienced up to an additional 140 mm within the first week of February. Intervention was attempted by opening some canals and water gates. Hope Canal and the Maduni Sluice gate were opened in an attempt to provide an outlet for water in the Mahaica, Mahaicony and the Abary areas. Directing water out to the Atlantic prevented build up of flood waters backing up onto farmland and into local communities. Even with this prevention, flooding prevailed over the East Coast of Demerara, West Berbice, East Bank Demerora and in areas of Grove and Diamond, including parts of West Demerara.

A week after this diversion, the Maduni Sluice gate was closed. Regions of Mahaica and Mahaicony remain in danger after so much rainfall. Closing the gate was an attempt to lower water across Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary after the water level was first purged. A low rainfall period finally occurred around February 6 for 36 hours that allowed the gates to be closed and floodwater diverted with pumps and excavation equipment. Even with this action, some homes and farms remain in jeopardy. Mahaica alone had hundreds of households flooded and some rice and much of their other cash crops destroyed. Livestock and poultry farmers suffered heavy losses in the region. Current relief efforts are to try to relocate animals to pens on higher ground and to continue to pump water from rice fields in hopes of saving some of the livestock and rice.

Much of Guyana continues to be affected by the rainfall that first started on January 28. There has been flooding in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (6 of the 10 Regions)—particularly in those areas on the Coastal Plain and along the Abary, Mahaica, Mahaicony Rivers, the Pomeroon as well as the Black Bush Polder and Canal Polders. Light to medium showers continue to be seen through February 14 but due to continued pumping, water has been receding in most of these areas.

Figure 2. Coastal locations were hammered with rain and flood problems in Guyana after recent storms.


In Region 5, the flood waters have receded rapidly along Branch Road up to Number 10 Village. Esau and Jacob and communities further down the Mahaicony River, however, are not so lucky. Here, water has receded very slowly. Water has been slow in draining from farmlands of the Upper Mahaica Communities, including Little and Big Baiboos and Grass Hook. Damage to crops in Region 6 along the cultivated land of Whim Wire Dam, Bloomfield Housing Scheme, Black Bush Polder, Mibicuri, Lesbeholden, Johanna, and Yakusari are reported. Pumps and sluices are now operational and continue to work to shift floodwaters away from houses and cropland in these areas.

With these problems, the government of Guyana has decided to enhance the drains and outfalls in the affected communities. In order to increase the capacity of the drains to accommodate such heavy flooding as has recently been seen in Guyana, plans are to build more canals. Recent dam maintenance and construction as well as deployment of drainage pumps and excavators have helped in preventing more damage to the areas affected by the recent rains. Twelve excavators are currently deployed in the Mahaicony-Mahaica region to assist in the emergency works and maintenance. Many farmers in the region have helped by doing some of their own pumping from flooded fields. Early on some pumps had trouble and some canals were blocked from silt and weeds clogging drains, but now equipment is working and flood waters are receding.

Unpredictable rains which prevent draining farmland quickly have lead to problems with livestock, crops and homes over the last several years in Guyana. Additional resources have been added to support the Water Users Association and the local government authorities in improving the country-wide dam maintenance program. As areas are able to be worked to construct better outlets for floodwater, the work is being done. Work is continuing at a fast pace as the Hydromet Office has predicted additional intense rainfall in coming weeks. (For additional information, contact Dr. Denise McWilliams, South American Crop Production Analyst at 202-720-0107.)

Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.


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For more information contact Denise McWilliams | Denise | (202) 720-0107
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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