Black belly sheep from Barbados to help reduce Guyana’s food import bill
Guyana’s import bill is expected to be further reduced with the arrival of the first flock of black belly sheep from Barbados on Thursday.
A total of 112 ewes and 20 rams arrived by boat. With a total 1,000 sheep to arrive, there will be more small shipments in the coming weeks.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said it was a momentous occasion, important because agriculture in Guyana is on the cusp of improvements.
He noted that there are plans, supported by Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Motley, to create a mix of the black belly sheep with the local sheep here.
“The president has announced that this is an important programme where we want to create a Caribbean brand of black belly here.
“Prime Minister Mia Motley, when she was in Guyana said she wants us to also breed a new breed of sheep, a mixed breed, between the Guyana local sheep. So we are looking to work in those two directions,” the Agriculture Minister said.
He said that 30 per cent will be going to women, 20 per cent will go to young people and the differently abled are being included in building this brand here.
He said the sheep will be sent to the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) where it will be fed local sheep feed to prepare it for living in Guyana. This means they will be introduced to foods and conditions different from those in Barbados.
Close to 100 farmers have already signaled their intention to be a part of the project making close to 1,400 acres of their land available. In Region Five, there are farmers preparing pens to accommodate the remaining 1,000 sheep.
Meanwhile, the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Barbados to Guyana and Suriname, Alphea Wiggins said that Barbados is excited to start this alliance with Guyana. She said it will significantly improve the relationship between the two countries and the agriculture sector in the Caribbean.
“This is a momentous occasion between Guyana and Barbados where we have seen the St Barnabas Accord in full action.
“The fact that we have shipped these sheep here safely from Barbados to Guyana tells us that we are going to get those other sheep here safe and in good condition,” Wiggins said.
She added, “When we have concluded agreements in terms of creating one domestic space between Barbados and Guyana, more benefits will accrue for both countries.”
The government’s Black Belly Sheep project was launched back in March by President Dr Irfaan Ali.
The project forms part of plans to boost the region’s food security with Region Five being positioned to become the livestock capital for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
“This is the ongoing collaboration and as you know Agro-Fest, we had 150 Guyanese there and the relationship between Barbados and Guyana will continue to develop and it will be the envy not only of CARICOM but the rest of the world,” Wiggins further exclaimed.
Close to 100 farmers have already signaled their intention to be a part of the project making close to 1400 acres of their land available. The government in its 2022 budget has earmarked $28.7 billion to ensure the rapid growth and development of Guyana’s agriculture sector.