The Ministry of Agriculture is currently putting safe and adequate transportation mechanisms in place for the 1000 Barbados black belly sheep, which are expected to land on Guyana’s shores within two months.
Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha on Saturday, told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that Guyana and Barbados advanced talks on the initiative, during his recent visit to the Barbadian state just over two weeks ago for Agro Fest 2022.
“We will try to get sufficient transportation to bring 1000 of the animals to Guyana. I can’t give a time stamp, but I am hoping that very shortly, within a month or two they can be available to Guyana,” he explained.
He said Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley has instructed the Bajan Minister of Agriculture and his team to ensure that the small ruminant animals are sent at the earliest.
President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali launched the Black Belly Sheep Project in Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) on March 27, as his administration moves to intensify Guyana’s agriculture programme.
Farmers have already been assured that the government will give full support to the industry to prepare their fields for the initiative.
Already, 78 farmers have signalled their interest in the project and have signed up, making about 1,325 acres of their land available.
The world import value of mutton and mutton products is US$ 8 billion. CARICOM alone imports 7,900 tonnes of mutton at US$48 million annually. The four major markets in the region are the Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
From 2016 to 2019, the industry has grown in CARICOM from US$36 million to close to US$48 million.
Guyana is looking to expand its local production above 7,000 tonnes at the end of five years. The approach will require a capital investment of over $231.8 billion (US$175 million) and approximately 25,000 acres of land. The expected earnings are estimated at over $8.6 billion (US$43 million) annually.
“We have right within our arms’ reach a market that can generate a value of US$48 million. And who supplies CARICOM right now? Australia and New Zealand. With the cost of freight and logistics cost increases, it is becoming more and more expensive, that is why this is a low hanging fruit, CARICOM is right within our arms’ reach,” the President emphasised.
The administration wants 20 percent of the sheep farms to be led by women and 35 percent of young people below the age of 35 involved. The government in its 2022 budget earmarked $28.7 billion to ensure the rapid growth and development of Guyana’s agriculture sector.