AN age-old issue between the cattle rearers and cash crop farmers of Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice), in which the former allegedly bullies the latter for use of land, has still not been settled, Regional Executive Officer, Ovid Morrison said.
Morrison spoke with the Guyana Chronicle at the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Compound during a meeting last Thursday.
The issue of land security came up as Morrison attempted to explain some of the difficulties being faced by farmers in the region. “There was this ‘wild-west’ attitude of people going and taking up land just like that, and you find yourself in conflict; I take up and then I want to bully you to get another piece,” he explained.
The Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) had attempted to settle the issue in the past by stating that the front part of a plot of land is to be used the cash crop farmers, whereas, the back portions are to be occupied by the cattle rearers.
“The cattle farmers are not prepared to obey the decision. The cattle farmers want to bully the cash crop farmers to use the front land, and that is where government needs to intervene,” Morrison observed.
He posited that the Ministry of Agriculture, along with its agencies such as Lands and Survey, needs to look at regularisation. “Regardless of who doesn’t want to move, the law must make them move.”
Morrison acknowledged, too, that the previous administration had encouraged some “slackness” that is not working out in the best interest of the farmers today.
ROLE OF NDIA
The REO said he is not satisfied with the role that the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) is playing in the region. “We can do much more if the money that is being given to NDIA for drainage is given to the region. I am sure we would double the amount of production in terms of drainage works and helping the farmers.”
Morrison recalled that on many occasions, the regional officers had to rescue rice farmers who were experiencing difficulties when not receiving water. “I am not supposed to be doing this, but many times we have to go to rescue them when water is not getting down to them. I see it as if it will affect the national economy and therefore I make myself available and spend money in that area.”
Morrison added that if the money given to NDIA is diverted to the region, he is certain that a better job would be done.
Meanwhile, Morrison recalled that the administration has made a policy decision that come 2020, there must be no mud roads or mud dams; that they must all be either asphalted or crusher-run. “And we are going speedily towards that objective. We are sure we are going to achieve that.”
“If we follow the history of this region, in 2012-2014, flooding was a constant condition in this region. Now, you would see that the problem has been resolved. That is because we concentrate heavily on the drainage and irrigation system,” he said.
The REO further pointed out that Region Five is the first region to have set up farm to market roads. So far, the region has in excess of 20 such roads, and is moving to construct more.