$177.7M injected to expand Black Belly Sheep Project

With the PPP/C Government’s aggressive move to expand the country’s livestock industry, some $177.7 million has been allocated to provide additional resources to massively support the promising Black Belly Sheep Project.

The approved fund is part of the $44.8 billion financial paper which was presented to the National Assembly at the 49th sitting of the Twelfth Parliament on Monday for supplementary funding.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, who was at the time being questioned on the allocation, said the new undertaking will also see Guyana integrally involved in the move to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25 per cent come 2025.

The first flock of Black Belly sheep landed on Guyana’s shore at the Rambaran Wharf, Georgetown on August 4.

Arrival of the Black Belly Sheep last Thursday

After being thoroughly examined for signs of illness, a total 132 sheep, including 20 rams and 112 ewes were offloaded. The amount is part of the first shipment of 1,000 animals expected within a couple months.

“We have an agreement with Barbados that we will start to work with them to develop this industry… the black belly sheep… where Barbados will be contributing approximately 1000 sheep to Guyana,” the agriculture minister stated.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

He said the aim is to allow the Caribbean to develop its own brand, replacing the New Zealand lamb and Australian lamb that are being imported to this side of the globe.

He emphasised that Guyana has adequate land and the right climate and all the necessary conditions to increase the production of black belly sheep.

According to Minister Mustapha, 50 per cent of the animal will be distributed to farmers across the country, 30 per cent to women, and another 20 per cent to young people.

Additionally, government is also looking to give a portion of the animal to the differently abled group, so that everyone could equally be part of the mutton production expansion.

“We have already received the first batch… hopefully during the course of the month we can receive the other. But I want to tell you that this will be a tremendous boost to our food security and Guyana’s economy, where we will be bringing in foreign exchange,” he reiterated.  

Further, the agriculture minister reminded the National Assembly of President Ali’s position as the lead head of government with responsibility for Agriculture in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet.

“As a matter of fact, the entire Caribbean is looking forward now to Guyana to lead the system and also looking for guidance,” he contended.

President Ali on March 27, launched the anticipated sheep project in the Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five).

There, the head of state said, the initiative also falls under his administration’s ‘one Guyana’ agenda.

With Region Five being Guyana’s largest producer of livestock, the president stated that it has the potential to become the livestock capital of the Caribbean Community.

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 wants to expand local production above 7,000 tonnes at the end of a five-year period. The effort requires a capital investment of US$175 million and approximately 25,000 acres of land. However, President Ali said the expected earnings is estimated at US $43 million annually.

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