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Re: What is the role of social relations and networks in household food security and nutrition?

04.11.2013
University of Guyana

 

Social Relations and Observation of Rural Communities:

Cases Under Observation

  1. The County of Berbice in Guyana
  2. The Gold Phenomenon in Guyana

As we would have identified in our preceding post, we believe that the Social Relations Dependence Paradigm can be largely successful if the conditions that had been highlighted are held. The following exemplifies our claim as we observe relations in rural areas of Guyana.

The social relationships forged in the rural areas with respect to food security are strong in the many ‘countryside’ or outlying communities of Guyana. Branching from many stories heard told by grandparents about their younger days being involved in farming, we can find very strong social dependencies. For instance in the far reaching communities in West Coast Berbice in rural Guyana,  after spending most of the week tending to crops on the farm, Thursday afternoons were designated for many families as a time for reaping produce so that early Friday mornings they could be transported to one of the large community markets. The incidence of market days coincides with the paydays of the community’s largest employer-the Blairmont Sugar Estate- a social dependence evident here. Also, in many communities where rice cultivation was the major income earners, the formation of cooperatives to assist rice cultivators in acquiring collectively what they were incapable of acquiring individually. These rice cultivators were able to pool their resources together to obtain essential machinery such as Combine Harvesters, Tractor Ploughs and pumps for irrigation purposes. 

Moving from Guyana’s coast to the interior villages where the recent ‘gold rush’ has taken place, many coastal dwellers have flocked interior communities in search of the precious metal- communities which were originally occupied by the Amerindians- Guyana’s indigenous people. These communities were usually involved in subsistence farming to cater for their own use, but with the influx of coastal dwellers, the issue of food security for the new immigrants was brought into question. From the experience of miners, the food security problem was averted when the Amerindians capitalized on the opportunity to transform their subsistence farming into income generating opportunities to cater for the food needs of miners in their vicinity. 

Inherent in our cases are the conditions that we are outlined in our preceding post for this concept to bear fruit. It is noteworthy that these areas had/have not been subject to heavy competitive markets. With the devising of intensely competitive markets and modernization of the Berbice economy, one can observe that the level of social relations present has declined.