–Black belly sheep initiative massively contributing to food security agenda
The President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali-led administration continues to advance its aggressive efforts to tackle food insecurity, locally and regionally while creating a strong agricultural sector that will transform the lives of all Guyanese.
Guyana has implemented a number of programmes to advance its food security agenda, among them, the black belly sheep project, production of high-value crops, the ‘Cut Rose’ project, climate-smart agriculture practices, agro-processing facilities, marine cage fishing, brackish water shrimp, corn and soya bean production, among others.
The government’s ambitions for improved food security, sustainable economic growth, and increased income from agriculture depend on the livestock industry, which is positioned for additional growth due to the strong and increasing demand for animal produce locally and internationally.
Importantly, Guyana will be receiving 300 more black belly sheep from Barbados.
This was highlighted by Barbados’ Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir in an article in Barbados Today on June 30.
“The last report I got…everything is going well. We did not lose any of the sheep that were shipped and that’s a good sign. I am now trying to get the remaining amount sent down to Guyana. We are preparing a shipment of 300 and then following that there will be another 300 and we will be finished,” Minister Weir stated.
Guyana received the first flock of 132 sheep from Barbados in August last year, which consisted of 112 ewes and 20 rams. Barbados agreed to send 1,000 sheep to Guyana.
This forms part of a joint undertaking between the governments of the two countries to build a regional brand of sheep to decrease the importation of lamb and mutton products into the region. The intention is to replace the imported lamb from New Zealand and Australia on this side of the world.
President Ali on March 27, launched the black belly sheep project in Region Five. The programme was launched with an estimated $600 million (US$3 million) investment from the administration.
The breed is primarily raised for meat and other high-demand by-products.
Guyana possesses enough land, a suitable climate, and all other prerequisites for increasing the production of black belly sheep.
These initiatives will enhance sustainable production and help to lower the Caribbean’s food importation bill by 25 per cent by 2025.
President Ali reemphasised the importance of boosting food production and fusing food security goals with those for eradicating poverty and inequality.
The head of state made the remarks during the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) high-level Ministers of Agriculture meeting last Tuesday.
Moreover, to improve food production in the region, the president also stressed the need for a technology support system, with a focus on empowering women in this field.
As part of its efforts to improve the livestock industry, Guyana has set the goal of guaranteeing that 35 per cent of livestock farms are owned by women.
Dr. Ali stated that to create an integrated, resilient, and sustainable agriculture and food security system, it is necessary to link and expand health, education, technology, and the inclusion of women and young people.