Component three of the recently launched Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme (SADP) will advocate for the compliance of sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS). One of the major undertakings under this component will be the construction of two pilot facilities for meat processing in Regions Five and Nine.
The SADP has a long-term objective of increasing productivity while maintaining a sustainable and climate resilient use of natural resources in Guyana. With increased access to meat processing facilities, there will be higher productivity which will contribute to reduced pressure on the fragile eco-systems while increasing income for small and medium scale farmers.
Component three of the SADP programme has been allocated US$2.8M, from a loan valued at US$15M which has been approved by the Inter-American Development Bank to facilitate this aspect of the programme. When constructed, the SADP is expected to increase the country’s capacity to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) which will open up markets for livestock production.
Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder said that once there is complete compliance with SPS, Guyana stands a better chance of exporting meat and its by-products. Guyana currently has 10 registered abattoirs; however, due to outdated standards managing these facilities, there is the need to ensure that livestock farmers have adequate access to more state-of-the-art facilities.
“By ensuring compliance with SPS standards, the overall quality of meat processed in the abattoirs will be enhanced. The longer term position of our Food Safety System can then be recognised by international trading partners and open the opportunity for export of meat products. This is in line with our policy as outlined in the Food Safety and Animal Welfare Bill presented in Parliament earlier this year,” Minister Holder noted.
It is widely recognised that rising SPS standards have created numerous obstacles to the international exchange of agricultural commodities. The issue is of particular importance for developing countries such as Guyana, which has an abundance of agricultural resources.
Head of the Agriculture Sector Development Unit (ASDU), Khemlall Alvin said that opportunities for exporting meat from Guyana are limited as a result of these outdated standards. “Some of the current standards, for example, the Public Health Ordinance dates back since 1915, it’s very outdated. The standards for the abattoir are mirrored off of Indian standards which are dated back to 1978 and a comprehensive cost is not available for the standards to be upgraded,” he further added.
To alleviate this challenge, the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance engaged the Inter-American Development Bank, proposing to review and update standards and codes related to products destined for both local and potential export markets, as well as local markets.
Minister Holder said that, “The final component of the SADP (will) increase sanitary and phytosanitary standards and access to meat processing facilities. This will be achieved by implementing improvements in infrastructure, ensuring adequate regulations are in place, as well as maximising the number of trained inspectors and supporting policies.”