…as cattle continue to be poisonedThe ongoing feud between rice and cattle farmers in Corentyne, Berbice, has resulted in animals being killed. Some weeks ago, more than a dozen cattle were shot and persons were arrested but now scores of cattle are being poisoned.This has led to the call by Regional Democratic Councillors for more pastures to be made available to facilitate the thriving cattle industry in the region.When more than 300 acres of rice were destroyed by cattle in Corentyne, Berbice, last month, the rice farmers pleaded with Government to create a cattle pasture for the cattle owners but did not get the urgent response they were hoping for.Two weeks later, 14 cattle were shot and persons were arrested but as the police were getting information on the alleged weapons used, the suspects were identified as two persons with close alliances to a political party in the coalition Government. Following that, cattle started dying and a vet confirmed that they were being poisoned.Regional Councillor Gobin Harbhajan said that the animals are dying on a daily basis. He made the comments as he addressed the Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) Regional Democratic Council (RDC) during a recent meeting.“The rice farmer is protecting their rice and the cattle farmer is saying that the savannah in some parts is fenced so they can’t take their cattle there. Some parts are occupied so they have nowhere to carry the animals. The land must become available because during the previous Administration in the 80s under the PNC [People’s National Congress] it was a communal pasture and we have to keep it that way. As a Councillor, I am asking that we look at how we can solve this. We have to engage the Lands and Survey Department and notices should be sent out to those who are there and don’t fence the savannah,” Harbhajan said while adding that both the cattle and rice industries are equally important to the region’s economy.He also called for more pasture lands to be made available.Regional Chairman David Armogan noted that the current situation reemphasised the need for a clear land use police. Failing which farmers will continue to have conflicts.However, land leases which were given to farmers for the purposes of rearing cattle are worded: “to be used for agricultural purposes only”. With rice cultivation also being a part of agriculture, some farmers then switched to cattle, hence both cattle and rice are done in the same areas.“There is a lot of vacant GuySuCo [Guyana Sugar Corporation] land. All they have to do is to develop it; put water and everything and the grass will grow. In fact, it was pasture land before and GuySuCo took the land to grow more cane for the factory that was supposed to be operable. Unfortunately, that factory is not operable anymore,” the Chairman explained.He added that lands are available but belong to GuySuCo.“So Government will have to negotiate with GuySuCo to probably take back those lands,” he added.