A few months ago there were reports via the newspapers and otherwise of seizures of smuggled chicken meat and live sheep in different parts of Guyana. Whilst the authorities may be commended for the usual swift enforcement of the pertinent regulations, the seizures also reflect a worrying, cloaked element within the livestock and poultry sectors in Guyana, (the whole agricultural sector, I suspect).
The fact that the commodities were smuggled to an area where they were being produced, suggests that there were some serious failings. The failings, naturally, presented opportunities for some enterprising efforts. Evidence of those deficiencies now leads to three questions for the relevant authorities:
1. Is there any feasible or sensible programme enacted by any agency of the state to help facilitate the production of small to medium-scale livestock and crop farmers? Small to medium-scale farmers incidentally are responsible for more than seventy-five per cent of the country’s agricultural production under very undesirable conditions. (Please go beyond extension and breeding services, which are non-existent to poor to inappropriate in most instances.).
2. Is there any land development scheme for livestock production, especially grazing livestock, or for agricultural production generally that would benefit or target small and medium scale farmers? The last such scheme known by the writer was the incomplete MMA Scheme attempted during the late 1980s.
Anyone contemplating an answer should not consider corridors and mega farms, the latter of which would be in direct conflict with any green economy and social cohesion.
3. Is there any established, worthy livestock production system or systems in Guyana? I can detail the tethering system for cattle on the Essequibo Coast which is unduly stressful for both the animals and the owners, as well as being downright unproductive. It should be discouraged and replaced.
The authorities, while swift to enforce legislation, (suppressive), seem listless when it comes to implementing corrective measures for alleviating shortcomings within the sector.
In closing, I would strongly recommend a comprehensive audit of the true state of affairs in the agriculture sector in Guyana done by an independent, objective and honest party or entity with the concomitant remedial measures being undertaken.
I also hope that the questions in this letter are noticed and taken seriously by the appropriate authorities.