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ingenious and sometimes beautiful: Château Margot, Liliendaal and Sophia, Ogle, Le Ressouvenir, Good Hope, Bachelor's Adventure, Maiden's Despair (the two last are adjacent), Golden Grove, Paradise, Rose Hall, Mes Délices, Content, Glazier's Lust, Palmyra, Mary's Hope, Lusignan, and Rosignol. The French and Dutch names are pronounced in a rigidly English manner and an original mis-spelling has become official: 'Vryhiedslust' and 'Nonpariel' now appear on all maps. Some way beyond Vryhiedslust, one Sunday afternoon, I visited a Self-Help scheme. For many years the British administration in the Colony has criticized the Guianese for not being sufficiently willing to do things for themselves, for relying too much on the bounty of the home Government and the English taxpayer. During the last two years Self-Help schemes have been started with the intention of building up a state of mind which is proud of its self-reliance. Professor Toynbee has said that in backward areas the community must accept the challenge of difficult environment if it is to survive. In British Guiana, where the nature of the challenge has meant that it can only be faced by the strength of efficient, large-scale industry, the small man has in fact had no real need to make the great exertion for himself; he has either been employed by the large economic units or recognized that the task has been out of proportion to his puny strength. Self-Help has had results. At the little village of Caria-Caria a nineteen-year-old African, Earl Thompson, single-handed built a rough road so that the people of the village could transport their goods more easily. Unfortunately the other villagers saw little need for the road and refused to help him. At Good Hope on the Essequibo coast the whole community cleared seventy-five acres of trees and underbush, turning the area into a community cattle-pasture. It was the women of the village who began this scheme and it was they who laid the foundations of a Women's Institute--and then forced their men-folk to do the rest.

The Government grant in a Self-Help scheme never exceeds 50 per cent of the total amount needed, and this money covers the cost of materials and technical assistance. The grants are only given to schemes which have a community basis and when those concerned in them give their labour without payment. At the scheme which I visited a number of Indians and Africans

were building a group of fifteen houses out of concrete blocks. Lime and other essentials were supplied for them as well as one trained building foreman. They mixed the lime with water brought a considerable distance in buckets and the concrete was poured into moulds made by themselves. Alas, they told us, the curious cattle that roamed the community land could not keep away from the blocks and when no one was about would ruin them with their noses before they had set hard. Much of their work had to be done again. Water, however, was their greatest problem; the bucket-carrying wasted labour, and was unnecessary. A canal ran along the side of the community land and a ready-made trench could take off a little water from the canal, so that they could have a permanent supply within reach. Why didn't they do so? we asked. The spokesman, an intelligent and articulate African, told us that the village Committee was against the scheme (I learnt afterwards that they resented the Government taking over the land; they would have preferred to handle the scheme themselves and each member of the Committee would have found means to make a small profit over the disposal of the land). Since the scheme had started, we were told, the Committee had frustrated it whenever possible and now they had refused permission to draw water from the canal. My companion was the official in charge of the housing schemes, an Englishman, and he told one of the men to go to the Chairman of the Committee and ask him to come round. There was no reason in the world why the water should not be taken. Twenty minutes went by and no Chairman arrived, so the official said that if Mahomet would not come to the mountain, etc. . . . But soon a small and rather shifty-looking little Indian arrived on his bicycle—and amused us by giving 'Mahomet' as part of his name. The situation was put to him and, faced by authority, he agreed to let the water be taken off the canal. He rode off on his bicycle and one of the builders, an old Indian with a beard, produced a bottle of rum to celebrate the victory. He offered us a nip, but when he came to the word 'rum' he hesitated and said 'stimulant' instead. 'Me want use a more proper word', he explained respectfully; it was clear that his rum-consumption was a cause of guilt. We drank our rum and followed it with coconut water from fresh coconuts which had been cut for our refreshment.

Then we drove off along the road and the men returned to building their little dream-houses.

This small incident of frustration was, apparently, typical of what happens on all the Self-Help schemes. Such schemes offer no opportunity for the small acts of graft by which certain local men make a few dollars from most development projects. The difficulties they put in the way of the self-helpers may be small but they are insuperable without, as in this case, the intervention of authority. And authority is not always at hand to put things straight at the right moment.

The Government is conscious of the inadequacies, in general, of local government in British Guiana. The Robertson Report was 'not convinced that in local affairs the village and country district councils were popular or influential amongst the people.' It went on to say that 'A few councils, blessed with Chairmen of personality and energetic overseers, appear to play a part in community life, but in the great majority of cases the councils lack drive and influence.' In February, 1955, the U.K. Government sent Dr. A. H. Marshall to the Colony to report on local government and to make suggestions for its improvement.1 Dr. Marshall agreed with the opinion of the Robertson Commission and made detailed suggestions for greater efficiency. He believes that local government should be considered of special importance since it is here that responsible political leadership may be learnt. There is, wrote Dr. Marshall, an 'exceptional need and opportunity for practice in the exercise of political responsibility in British Guiana. So many of the necessary conditions are there-awareness of political organization, formulation of ideas and critical assessment of policies. What is conspicuously lacking is the habit of thinking out concrete solutions, willingness to pursue consistently a chosen objective and a realization that all government is but organized self-help. Is not a system of local selfgovernment the best way to acquire these qualities?'

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I made one of my trips along the coast at a time of premature heavy rainfall. I had often been told that by coming to the

1 Report on Local Government in British Guiana, by A. H. Marshall. Georgetown. May, 1955.

Colony in the dry season I was seeing it at its best, that I could only understand the difficulties of the country during the rainy season. I had delayed for some days before I motored down the coast; the road surface was more abominable than ever, the cattle on the frontlands dejectedly wandered about in ten inches of water, and at various points the stilted houses stood like lake-villages, desolate in a huge area of shallow water. For an hour at a time the road was like a causeway across the water. Chickens had drowned, the rice was harmed by this unaccustomed rain and nothing could be done because the land was undrained. The plantations were unaffected, the pumps merely pumped harder to shoot the unwanted water into the


It is the continual cry of the Guianese that the undrained lands on the coast should be efficiently drained and irrigated, that no one who has the desire to start a small chicken and mixed-crop farm is going to do so on land which is at the mercy of the elements. It is one of the root problems of the country.

There is a point on the coast in the vicinity of the Berbice River where it was planned, by land reclamation, to have 60,000 more acres under rice by 1960. This is the area between the two small rivers, the Mahaicony and the Abary. The scheme is at present in abeyance but, even so, it has achieved something. The British Guiana Rice Development Company, which is sponsored by the Government and was established in 1953, operates in an empoldered area of 12,000 acres and cultivates 4,300 acres mechanically, the remainder of the 12,000 acres being cultivated by smallholders who either own the land or hold it under lease from the Government.

Rice is the second crop of the Colony. It is, as I have said, mainly grown by peasants and milled in small, privately owned mills. Most of the 21,000 rice-farmers are tenants cultivating from three to five acres. Rice had been grown for some time by the slaves but it was not until the advent of the East Indians that it began to be widely planted on land rented from abandoned sugar estates, and since the increased demand for rice in the last decade it has come to occupy more land than sugar-cane.1 But whereas the sugar plantations are able to defy the problems of irrigation and drainage, only 30 per cent of 1 111,000 acres were planted in 1953; 126,000 acres in 1955.

the rice-land is properly irrigated, and rice production in lands without proper water-control is a matter of ad hoc methods which may one year produce a good and efficient crop and the next may be disastrously affected by the vagaries of climate. Under these conditions it would be economically risky to aim at complete mechanization, since on farms of less than ten acres mechanization is difficult. The Government is giving incentives to farm mechanization with the intention of encouraging really efficient farmers to farm larger units of properly drained and irrigated land. The rice is not of very high quality, but its export price is high. By an agreement of 1956 the local Indian islands named British Guiana their sole supplier, so long as production sufficed. Half the crop is consumed locally.1

The Mahaicony-Abary Rice Development Scheme was sponsored by the Government in 1942 as a large mechanized rice area intended to fill the gap in rice production made by the loss of Burma. There is an experimental station which studies all the problems of rice-growing in the Colony, a large, modern rice-mill, a fleet of tractors and other implements which are rented to the tenant farmers. It was an emergency scheme and was prepared quickly, with the result that various mistakes occurred which can now be put right only at great expense. Long-term improvements will be made and in 1953 the Colonial Development Corporation gave the Scheme a loan of £1,041,666 to finance new projects which will avoid the mistakes of the earlier ones.2

Rice in British Guiana is becoming a rival to Sugar-less for its cash value than for its demand on land and labour. In terms

1 It is difficult today to get a clear picture of the economics of rice, either in British Guiana or in its global aspect, since its production has so increased since the war and is subject to subtle economic fluctuations. However, it seems clear that British Guiana's rice policy has been reasonably successful. At the end of 1955 the Colony's Director of Agriculture said that 1,300 tractors and 100 com. bines were now in use-most of them owned by rice farmers-and that this high level of mechanization ‘has resulted primarily from favourable rice prices over past years and the success of machinery held on the mechanized rice scheme at Mahaicony-Abary and the issue of petrol to farmers free of import duty.' He added that mechanization had stimulated the demand for more rice land.

2 It should be noted that British Guiana is aware that its rice is not of firstclass standard-although the British Guiana Rice Marketing Board buys all rice produced in the Colony, irrespective of its quality. Active steps are being taken to improve the milling of rice and an up-to-date mill has been erected at Anna Regina. Another modern, central mill may be built in the Courantyne.

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