RANCHING AND FARMING
Subsistence farming is supplemented by hunting and fishing which abound. This fragile dependency on the environment and the habitat around requires secure land rights to the traditional lands that they are accustomed to. It is this basic issue that at the moment is of most concern to the people at a time when there is an ever increasing demand by others for more land and natural resources. The people of the North Rupununi Savannahs are very pleased to show how they dependent on the land and how it is possible to manage sustainably these resources to the benefit of all. Together with the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development it is hoped that ecotourism through educational awareness will address and sensitize decision makers in the four corners of the globe in such a way that the lives of generations to come will be guaranteed.
The Rock View Ranch endeavors to produce as much homegrown produce for consumption by visitors. This ensures fresh and healthy food at all times and simplifies the sourcing of inputs into the business as well as promoting what can be done with good husbandry techniques under what may seem an inhospitable climate with poor soil type and rain distribution. All twenty acres of the leased land receive water distributed from the well thus allowing the livestock to drink water from self replenishing water troughs and to water the five acres of orchard and garden from stand pipes at strategic points. As a result a variety of fresh fruits are available at most times of the year as well as flowering and foliage plants for the home.
Being a working ranch our vacqueiros can explain to visitors and share with them their daily activities besides going horse riding and taking or bringing the cattle back from the open pasture that the grasslands of the savanna provide.
Seasonally, visitors have the chance to meet with our Amerindian staff to observe traditional techniques of extracting locally-grown cashew nutmeat from its toxic shell. You haven’t tasted anything until you’ve picked a warm and fresh cashew out of its roasted shell!
The Dairy & Butchery
We now have our own dairy for the production of fresh cow’s milk, cream, yogurt or “coalhada” as we call it and farm cheeses. The cattle we have are of Holstein extraction crossed with the hardy longhorns of the Rupununi. As part of our professional development programs for local workmen, we occasionally bring in international experts for training sessions. In 2010, Ralph Graham from the Canadian Executives Services Organization oversaw a culinary training program at Rock View that included safety and quality training for butchering procedures.
In 2012 we launched our newest venture, a fish farm that allows us to pursue integrated farming methods by using the water from the ponds onto our existing drip irrigation vegetable garden that provides fresh produce to our kitchen. We are rearing the Amazonian Tambaqui that is both appropriate to the environment and also allows guests to fish for their meals.
Fingerlings for the ponds were introduced to the newly dug ponds in May of 2012 and in the first month the fish seem to be doing very well.
Tambaqui, the largest of all the characins, are creatures of the Amazon’s flooded forest. Members of the sub-family Colossoma of the Characidae, tambaqui (Colossoma macroponum) are oval-shaped, physically built like a stocky permit or jack. They have a golden to olive green back and an inky purple to black ventral area. An omnivorous characid relative of the piranha, tambaqui have dazzling teeth that look eerily like a set of human dentures. These fish have amazing jaw strength as they often feed on rock hard jungle seeds. Tambaqui can get huge. Specimens of 3 feet in length and weighing in at over 70 pounds are not exceptional. The tambaqui feeds on zooplankton, insects, snails, and decaying plants. Research has indicated the species plays an important role in dispersing seeds from fruits.
We expect mature fish to be ready for harvest in early 2013 and eagerly invite anglers and families to join us then to participate in the Rupununi’s newest project in sustainable aquaculture. A successful harvest will potentially lay the groundwork for satellite projects owned and operated by local villages, providing another sustainable economic development alternative to logging, mining, or poaching.
You can view Colin Edwards presentation to the Guyana Tourism Authority on Agrotourism in the Rupununi