US-based economists here to help with beef cattle industry

Kaieteur News
January 8, 2007

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Four economists from Washington D.C are in Guyana reviewing the status of the cattle industry with a view to evaluating possibilities for the development of an export market for beef as well as to recommend the way forward for the dairy industry.

The visit is facilitated through the Farmer to Farmer Programme with the Washington, D.C.-based Partners of the Americas

The four volunteers are Dr. Geoffrey Benson, Dr. Steven Washburn, Dr. Francis Higdon and Dr. John Rushing.

Dr. Geoffrey 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. He has done professional work in Ecuador , Brazil , Mexico , South Korea , and several European Union countries.

He has to his credit a number of publications inclusive of: Beef Cattle Marketing in North Carolina ; Dairy Marketing; Production and Use of Stockpiled Fescue to Reduce Beef Cattle Production Costs; and Reproduction, Mastitis, and Body Condition of Seasonally Calved Holstein and Jersey Cows in Confinement or Pasture Systems.

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

Dr. Francis 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.

Dr. John E. 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 .

The economists are expected to meet with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, National Dairy Development Project (NDDP), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), 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 with US Embassy and US Agency for International Development (USAID) officials. They arrived in Guyana yesterday and will leave on January 20.

The Farmer to Farmer Programme improves 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.

It is supported by Congress and USAID as part of the United States foreign assistance programme.

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.

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

In November, Marketing and Trade expert Kent Ayers, also a volunteer from the Partners of the Americas , visited Guyana to review the cattle industry and to advise on marketing actions.

During his two-week stint, he met with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, National Dairy Development Programme (NDDP), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), and the Guyana Dairy Development Project. He also met with representatives of the private sector involved in the cattle industry.

President of the Guyana Manufacturers Association, George Robinson, at a recent forum held with CARICOM officials to determine the way forward for the private sectors in the CSME system, noted that demonstrative of current problems being experienced by Guyanese businesses are the long outstanding issues of beef and chicken.

He had noted that recent checks revealed that beef from Onverwagt is being exported to only one Caribbean destination and efforts to access sizeable markets in the Caribbean have failed because of bureaucratic approaches by various Caribbean countries.

He pointed out that livestock production in Guyana is currently oriented completely to the domestic market, which means that there is almost no export activity to serve as a signal that such activity could be potentially profitable.

He lamented this situation since the cost of meat production in Guyana is low and Guyana has several advantages as a beef exporter, including abundant land and water resources necessary for raising grass fed cattle, as well as the certified Foot and Mouth Disease free status.

These characteristics, Robinson stated, place Guyana in a position as one of the few players with the comparative advantage required to be a potential long run player in the export of beef.