As the ongoing issue between rice and cattle farmers continues to spiral out of control, the police in Berbice (Corentyne) were forced to arrest two rice farmers on Thursday for allegedly shooting six cattle in the Number 52-74 stretch.
The men were arrested and had their homes searched for firearms, however, police reportedly turned up empty handed.
One cattle farmer Ludmila Jugisteer of Number 61 Village, Upper Corentyne who had three of her cattle killed, told Kaieteur News that her husband found their animals dead with apparent gunshots on Saturday in the Number 50 Village backlands.
There were three other dead cows belonging to someone else nearby as well, she said.
The woman explained that some of the animals were pregnant when they were killed and that one cow is worth over $100,000. A veterinarian who inspected the dead animals confirmed that they died as a result of gunshot wounds.
Jugisteer said, “Me husband tell me the animals na even get to go in the rice field, cause it full of water and when it full of water them animals can’t get to go in”.
She explained that as a result of the excessive water in the fields and the ongoing battle between the rice and cattle farmers, their cattle is kept within the confines of the grazing location.
In 2018, rice farmers vented their frustration over the existing feud between them and cattle farmers. They complained that farmers are allowing their animals to graze on their rice field, eating away at several acres of rice crop and causing major losses.
Just recently they met with the Prime Minister Rep Gobin Harbhajan to air their concerns once again, since the issue had not been resolved although the Minister of Agriculture and Prime Minister were informed about it in 2018.
Some rice farmers were so frustrated when they spoke to Kaieteur News, recently, that they threatened to take matters into their own hands if there was no intervention and solution to the burning issue.
However, the Prime Minister’s Rep for Region Six told this publication that several cattle farmers had turned up to his office and informed him that they had discovered their cattle dead in the backlands.
He explained that he immediately made contact with the station Sergeant at the Number 51 Police Station where the matter was reported and offered a copy of a letter from NDIA’s legal adviser.
That letter had detailed that the cattle farmers were to be served the notice for destroying the rice crops and to “have some kind of appraisal in place for damages”.
He added, “They can get the estimate for damages and take the matter to court”.
The police are investigating the matter but the cattle farmers are pleading with the authorities to take the matter seriously since it is their livelihood that is being threatened.
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