Rupununi beef returns
Supermarkets get first road shipment in 40 years By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
November 1, 2003

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A shipment of 3,000 pounds of beef from the Rupununi in Region Nine (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu) was delivered to two supermarkets in the city yesterday.

The beef, which was shipped by road in a refrigerated truck, was the first such shipment in about four decades. The meat was delivered C&F and Bounty supermarkets.

Describing the shipment as a trial run, Cyril King of David King and Sons of Lethem told Stabroek News that the newly formed business plans to bring some 6,000 pounds of meat on a weekly basis to the city.

The 3,000 pounds which arrived yesterday represents five cows, which David King said attests to the size and quality of the animals. “You don’t get that size and quality in Georgetown,” he asserts in his matter-of-fact manner. The beef came from the Dadanawa Ranch.

C&F Manager Paul Fraser said that the beef from the Rupununi will be sold at the same price as that obtained on the coast.

Witnessing the delivery and welcoming the initiative was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Bhowan Balkaran.

He told this newspaper that the improved condition of the road, which helped make the shipment possible, would reduce the cost of other hinterland items and boost trade between the hinterland and the coast.

Balkaran sees the market opportunities being created as having a positive economic and social impact on consumers in both areas.

Delivering the supply were David King and his sons Cyril and Rodger. The journey by road took 14 hours.

Speaking yesterday at C&F Supermarket on Regent Street, Cyril King said that with the improved road between Lethem and George-town came the idea of bringing fresh beef to the city. He said the family business wanted to help in the socio-economic development of the Rupununi while developing itself and sought to do this by investing in a refrigerated truck.

The company will continue to open market opportunities for cattle and livestock farmers in the Rupununi by buying their produce and bringing them fresh to Georgetown.

He said that the idea is also to take back to the Rupununi fresh seafood, such as fish and shrimp that are not readily available in any quantity in the Rupununi. He hopes that taking the seafood by road would reduce its cost and add variety to the food people eat in the Rupununi.

The senior King, David, who was the previous owner of Dubulay Ranch in the Berbice River, recalled that the last time cattle were brought to the city through the overland route was by the famous cattle trail.

This took some 21 days, he said. The cattle, about 200 head at a time, were taken to the ranch at Dubulay some 90 miles by river from Rosignol.

From there they were transported to Rosignol by the steamer which plied the Berbice River once a week. At Rosignol they were put on the train (linking Berbice with Georgetown) which brought them to the city to be slaughtered.

King said that the trail took its toll on the cattle and some perished in transit. At the Dubulay Ranch the sturdiest were first shipped to the city by steamer and train and the rest were left at the ranch, fattening, and awaiting their turn to be shipped to the city.

King recalled that at the age of 16, he actually helped herd the cattle from the Rupununi to the Dubulay Ranch. It was the first and last time for him but it was a 21-day experience he would never forget.He recalled too, that after the government closed the cattle trail in the early sixties, some 8,000 pounds of beef were transported by air in a DC-3 aircraft to Timehri. He recalled that much of the meat was actually sold on the runway at Timehri.

King, who sold the Dubulay Ranch to the Mendes family, told Stabroek News that after selling the farm he went to live at Linden and moved to the Rupununi with his family about 11 years ago. David King lives on the family cattle ranch called the BK Farm while his sons live at Lethem. Their farm is 30 miles from Lethem.

The BK farm is named for its owners. The B represents Buckley, David King’s wife, and the K, King.