Reg. 5 must be livestock capital of CARICOM; 1,000 Black Belly sheep to arrive soon
By Isanella Patoir
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday announced that 1,000 Black Belly sheep will arrive in Guyana within two weeks from Barbados and will form part of plans to boost the region’s food security with Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) being positioned to become the livestock capital for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The Head of State also announced that 78 farmers have already signed up to benefit from the government’s ‘Black Belly Sheep Project’ which was officially launched on Sunday at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice, Region Five.
President Ali revealed that 20 per cent of the farmers must be women and 35 per cent must be young people 35 years and under.
“In Region Five, we want to create the livestock capital of not Guyana, but the region. Region Five must be the livestock capital of CARICOM,” President Ali said to loud applause from those in attendance.
Only recently, the Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and a team traveled to Barbados to finalise the Black Belly Sheep project and the construction of a new food terminal on that island as part of efforts to create a new regional brand and boost food security efforts.
Expanding mutton production efforts stemmed from prior engagements between Dr. Ali and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
In a detailed presentation on the Black Belly Sheep project to support the viability of the industry, President Ali said the target is to increase local production of mutton and mutton products to 7,000 tons by the end of the first five years of the People’s Progressive Party Civic in office.
But to do this project, the quality of the product must increase, there must be improved breed, advanced technology, improved infrastructure and building partnerships.
President Ali said CARICOM spends about US$48 million to import mutton and mutton products from Australia and New Zealand.
“We have in our arm’s reach a market that can generate US$48 million,” the President said.
Guyana and Barbados have already agreed for Guyana to supply the Barbados market.
“That is a market with a value of US$6.8 million.”
Meanwhile, locally, Guyana imports about 18 metric tonnes of mutton with a cost of US$130,000.
President Ali explained that there is great potential for the market to grow with global supply chain issues. Currently, Guyana consumes about 90 per cent of poultry but this is expected to change with the country’s transforming economy.
President Ali said the project is supported by scientific and market research and “strong negotiations on the trade side.”
But in order for the project to be sustainable and resilient, President Ali revealed that farmers must move to better and more technological systems. As such, the feeding system, reproduction, capital, market, and pasture will all undergo tremendous changes.
“What we want to do is to work with all the farmers to develop a consistent system because once you are creating an industry, we must consistency and similarity of technology.
“We are going to support you with the machinery and the equipment to bring those fields and pasture up to level and then we will be investing in the technology and equipment to help us down the processing line,” President Ali explained.
Additionally, a dedicated team of specialists will also be established to work directly with the project.
According to President Ali, there are many advantages to rearing sheep; he said a ewe (female sheep) can produce 32 offspring within two years whereas a cow will only produce one offspring in the same period.
“This is why we call this industry a sleeping giant and now we are going to awaken that sleeping giant,” the President said.
Farmers will also be required to keep a database that must be updated daily, the President said.
Great going President Ali…it is wise for you and PM Mia to keep Trinidad and it’s current PM Rowlie, 5000 miles away as he kills everything near him.