Delayed arrival of some blackbelly sheep from Barbados stalls full rollout of project locally


Barbados Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir has assured Guyanese authorities that the remaining batches of blackbelly sheep will arrive in Georgetown this month.

In a telephone interview with the News Room on Monday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said that the arrival of the sheep is expected in the first quarter of 2023 but a date has not been set for the arrival since the sheep are being quarantined before entry into Guyana.

“I am hoping we can get the remaining balance, we haven’t received it as yet. I’ll be speaking to the Minister on what is the latest position,” Minister Mustapha said.

The project forms part of plans to support CARICOM’s food security ambitions with Guyana’s Region Five being positioned to become the livestock capital of the 15-member grouping.

When asked when the sheep were expected to arrive, Mustapha would only say that he was assured that the sheep will arrive soon.

“I am in contact regularly with my counterpart in Barbados and he has been assuring me that before the end of this month we should be receiving [the sheep].

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha

“I am hoping that by the first quarter in 2023 we can resolve these things,” the minister said.

The first batch of 132 sheep arrived in August 2022. In total, some 1,000 sheep are expected to arrive in Guyana. To date approximately 500 of the sheep have arrived and are currently undergoing tests for diseases while quarantined before they will be introduced into the conditions in Guyana.

The Guyana government awaits the arrival of all 1,000 sheep before it fully rolls out the cross-breeding project with distributions to local farmers

Mustapha spent the past few days in talks with his Barbados counterpart, assessing the linkages that can be created or deepened between the two countries to boost the Caribbean’s food security.

Mustapha told the News Room on Monday that that engagement has “concretised” Guyana’s food security partnership with Barbados. And he highlighted that one of the immediate outcomes of this engagement would be the importation of black belly sheep from Barbados in a matter of weeks.

From left to right: Permanent Secretary in the Barbados Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Nutritional Security Terry Bascombe; Barbados’ Minister of Agriculture and Food and Nutritional Security Indar Weir; Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha; and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, in discussion during their site visit to Lears, St. Michael on Saturday (Photo credit: T. Barker/BGIS/ March 19, 2022)

This project is an effort to expand mutton production and stems from prior engagements between Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

The Government of Guyana has injected millions into the promising Black Belly Sheep Project, meant to help Guyana slash its food import bill. Close to 100 farmers have already signaled their intention to be a part of the project where close to 1,400 acres of their land have been made available.

President Dr Irfaan Ali revealed that 20 per cent of the farmers must be women and 35 per cent must be young people 35 years and under.

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