U.S. specialists assessing Guyana cattle industry
Guyana Chronicle
January 7, 2007

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SPECIALIST volunteers from the United States yesterday began a two-week review of the status of Guyana’s cattle industry with a view to evaluating possibilities for this country to develop a viable export market for beef.

The four U.S.-based volunteers - Dr. Geoffrey Benson, Dr. Steven Washburn, Dr. Francis Higdon and Dr. John Rushing – will also be recommending a way forward for Guyana’s dairy industry in general and dairy product marketing in particular.

A statement from the Washington, D.C.-based Partners of the Americas said the four volunteers were scheduled to begin work in Guyana yesterday under the ‘Farmer to Farmer Program’.

It said they will meet officials of agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Dairy Development Project (NDDP), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and the Guyana Dairy Development Project (GDDP) as well as with cattle farmers and other cattle industry stakeholders.

In addition, the team will meet U.S. Embassy and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officials.

The visits are sponsored by Partners of the Americas, specifically the `Farmer to Farmer Program’, which is aimed at improving economic opportunities in rural areas of Latin America and the Caribbean by increasing food production and distribution, promoting better farm and marketing operations and conserving natural resources.

The scheme is supported by the U.S. Congress and USAID as part of the United States foreign assistance programme.

The statement said Farmer to Farmer brings together agricultural professionals and practitioners from the U.S. and the Caribbean. Volunteers from the U.S. work with farmers and agribusiness owners in Guyana, Haiti, and Jamaica to identify local needs and design projects to address them.

Founded in 1964, Partners of the Americas links U.S. states with Latin American and Caribbean countries in partnerships that use the energy and skills of citizen volunteers, their institutions and communities to address shared concerns of social, economic and cultural development.

The local chapter in Guyana, linked with Mississippi, works on projects in several diverse areas including health, reproductive rights, emergency preparedness, agriculture, and cultural and educational exchanges.

Partners of the Americas is a private, nonprofit, non-partisan organisation with international offices in Washington, D.C.

The statement said Benson is an Associate Professor and Extension Economist of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, North Carolina State University.

His current primary responsibilities are in the areas of beef cattle, dairy cattle and forage economics. Benson has done professional work in Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and several European Union countries.

Washburn is a Professor and Extension Specialist of the Department of Animal Science at the North Carolina State University.

For more than two decades, Dr. Washburn has had a significant input into the university’s academic, research and extension programmes.

Higdon is a Senior Lecturer in Community Economic Development in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology of Pennsylvania State University.

His primary duties include developing research proposals, conducting applied research and supervising graduate outreach projects.

Current projects focus on international service learning, creating partnerships with community-based organisations and conducting applied research in organisational development and distance learning.

Rushing is a Professor/Food Science Extension Leader (Dairy Products and Food Technology) in the Department of Food Science of the North Carolina State University.

During his professional career, Rushing has been a Food Technologist, Technical Director and Dairy Plant Manager of different processing entities.