On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, launched two critical projects to enhance traceability for food products and achieve export certification for bovine (cattle) and other small animals.
Execution of the “Development of a Food Products Traceability System for Pineapples and Leafy Greens in Guyana” and the “Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) and Bovine Brucellosis (BB) to Improve Market Access” projects will be done through funding from grants from the Bank’s Special Funds Resources totaling approximately €636,000.
Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, while delivering remarks at the project launch, highlighted the projects’ importance and said that they address critical challenges while unlocking new opportunities for growth and development.
In underscoring the importance of having an agricultural traceability system, Minister Mustapha stressed that an effective one can promptly identify, single out, and remove unsafe food products from the market.
“We are pleased to undertake these two projects, which will enhance our agricultural capacity, with the support from the Caribbean Development Bank and facilitated by the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement, CARIFORUM, and the CARICOM Standby Facility. The first project, the Development of a Food Products Traceability System for Pineapples and Leafy Greens in Guyana, is a transformative initiative that underscores our commitment to ensuring quality and safe food. A traceability system in the agriculture and food sector is particularly important and an effective one can promptly identify, single out, and remove unsafe food products from the market. Food traceability is a requirement for access to specific regional or international markets. For Guyana to become a major exporter of agriculture products we are ensuring that systems are in place for us to meet all the requirements,” the minister explained.
While speaking about the second project, Minister Mustapha said that this project will address critical issues impacting Guyana’s livestock industry.
“The second project, Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis to Improve Market Access in Guyana, will address critical issues impacting our livestock industry. These diseases not only pose significant health risks to our cattle population but also hinder market access for our farmers. By addressing these challenges head-on, we are not just protecting the livelihoods of our farmers but also fortifying Guyana’s position as a reliable supplier of high-quality livestock products,” Minister Mustapha added.
EPA and CSME Standby Facility’s Project Manager, Cyril Gill while giving an overview of the projects said the projects were based on developing a strategy towards eradicating tuberculosis and brucellosis in Bovine as well as establishing a food traceability framework.
“As it relates to productivity, this project is based on developing a strategy towards streamlining the eradication of the two diseases and we expect that with the framework in place to manage the reduction of these two diseases we can have better control towards the food systems that we have in the Guyana borders so that we can supply other regional member states with effective and efficient food throughout the system. As it relates to the leafy green and pineapple project, this project is primarily to establish a food traceability framework. What will be essential here is that this project is being set as the pilot project that can be expanded and taken across other areas in the agriculture sector. The primary focus will be on Regions Four and Five where the government has provided a number of initiatives such as the shadehouses that have been established. These areas that we’re focusing on; we saw as prime opportunities to develop these key initiatives because of the high consumption of these products. We also found that many youths were employed in these sectors and we thought it necessary to provide that developmental support in these areas,” he explained.
Given the high production of pineapples and leafy greens in Regions Four and Five and the importance of these products to ensure food security, the traceability pilot will center around agro-food stakeholders for these products and within the aforementioned regions in Guyana.
BTB and BB are both highly contagious zoonotic diseases that have a serious impact on farmers and the farming industry in Guyana. BTB in particular is infectious to cattle as well as other animal species. BB disease spreads rapidly in unvaccinated animals with affected cows aborting once after exposure and thereafter giving birth to full-term dead or weak calves. The project aims to strengthen surveillance programmes for bovine tuberculosis and bovine brucellosis to improve market access for the Guyana cattle industry.