Pasturing issues for cattle farmers are often an underlying cause of conflict, and should therefore be central to planning. Land at the Henrietta/Richmond pasture for cattle was taken away by some greedy rice farmers in Region Two, and property disputes have increased in the post-conflict period with the government and the squatters cultivating rice.
The cattle farmers between Lima and Reliance frequently try to reclaim access to the pasture without success. Lack of access to the pasture affects cattle farmers’ choice of not returning to cattle rearing.
Yet the Ministry of Agriculture largely neglected these wider issues on the basis that the matter is too complex and politically sensitive. The raging cattle-crop conflict has been plaguing areas in the Essequibo region for the past 15 years.
The $10M pioneer project in the Henrietta/Richmond areas in 1982 involving new dairy production units with associated satellite farms, entailed the construction of a permanent barbed-wire fence that separates the 5,000 acres of the Lima-Reliance cattle farmers association’s pastures and the adjacent 10,000 acres of prime rice land. The project spanned 5 miles and served as a barrier to approximately 10,000 head of cattle that had for decades invaded the rice fields during crop season.
The intention of that project when completed was to boost rice and cattle production.
It also brought harmony between cattle and rice farmers.
Today, after the cattle pasture was invaded by a greedy set of rice farmers, cattle are now destroying an average of 1,000 acres of rice plants, especially during the harvesting and sowing seasons.
The government decision-makers Mrs Indra Chanderpal and Dr Steve Surujbally have sought to engage the invaders of this pasture; their efforts have tended to focus on returning the pasture to displaced cattle farmers without any success.