A comprehensive plan needs to be put in place for the crop and animal farmers in Berbice

Dear Editor,
Crop and animal farming are the two lifeblood industries in Berbice. These two, for eons, have coexisted in harmonious unity, however, in recent times that existence has been strained as the standing crop farms are invaded by the roving animals and this is not going down well for everybody. When the two husbandry types have to compete for the same geographical space, there is bound to be trouble.
In this regard, the livestock farmers have to seek alternative grazing grounds far away from the crop farms.
Now, here is where the real problem steps in as the farmers of larger herds of cattle and ruminants, are faced with the task of putting their animals out to grazing grounds that are far away from their homes and not being attended to. When the animals are bereft of the watchful eyes of the owners, the problem of animal rustling sets in. As a Berbician myself, I am well acquainted with this situation.
Recently we heard of farmers losing their livelihood to cattle rustling, and this does not augur well for the industry. Something has to be done urgently to bring this situation under control.
There are a few options available and the Government has to play a leading role in putting things in place. Firstly, there can be a putting in place of communal grazing grounds in the backlands with the animals being attended to by rangers. These rangers are to be paid workers, either by the RDC or from a fee collected from the farmers themselves.
Secondly, farmers can adopt a zero-grazing programme, where feed or forage is cut and brought to the animals. This is economical for the smaller animals like ruminants, however, for the larger animals that consume more food, a rotational programme is more applicable.
With a rotational grazing programme, certain expensive infrastructural works have to be put in place such as fencing the pasture as well as the planting of nutritious grasses. The stocking rate and other factors have to be taken into consideration, which leads me back to the original plan of grazing in the open savannah, with paid rangers to attend to the animals.
Despite the oil boom, farming still remains the leading industry in Berbice and the solving of the nagging problems plaguing the industry must be tackled immediately in order for the industry to be saved. A careful and comprehensive plan needs to be put in place so that all the farmers can be comfortable working with it.

Neil Adams

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