Major cattle production industry beckons with Guyana-Brazil partnership
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha (right) exchanges an investment document with Mr. Aluizio Nascimento da Silva
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha (right) exchanges an investment document with Mr. Aluizio Nascimento da Silva

CATTLE production in the Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) has the potential to become a massive income earner for Guyana, according to Mr. Aluizio Nascimento da Silva, who is the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Livestock and Supply of Roraima, Brazil.

During an engagement with Guyana’s Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, on Saturday, da Silva said that Brazil sees the Rupununi– its immediate neighbour– as having much potential.

He said that as part of the proposed cattle production, Guyana can see Brazil being a steady market for meats, which, he said, can be exported to Roraima to be processed at one of the “big abattoirs there.”

“Once the farmers there [in the Rupununi] are able to meet the demand, they would be able to supply the Roraima market,” da Silva emphasised.

He added, “Our agriculture Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 1.2 per cent of the state’s GDP. It has since moved to 6.8 per cent in two and a half years and I believe you [Guyana] can do the same. If we work together and continue to foster strong partnerships, we can increase our international export figures.”

According to the government’s Department of Public Information, the Secretary of State, who has been involved in developing agri-business in the state of Roraima for the last 20 years, said there was an interest by a number of agriculture businesses to develop demonstration plots in the Savannahs close to the Roraima. These plots, he said, would be used to plant corn, soya beans, and peas.

Mr. da Silva also reflected on the fact that Guyana is also working to develop its own corn and soya bean industry, which can also aid Roraima.

“I also recommend looking into doing value-added, which is what Brazil is doing now. The soya meal can be added to the feed and then what is exported is the animal proteins such as beef, chicken and pork,” Mr. da Silva outlined.

Reflecting on Guyana’s longstanding relations with Brazil, Minister Mustapha said that collaborations to develop the country’s agriculture sector are welcomed.

“We look forward to working with Brazil to develop our agriculture sector. Brazil is a trade partner around the world and exports to a number of countries. Through collaborations with Brazil, Guyana would be able to develop several of our agriculture subsectors like the cattle industry, and also the non-traditional crops that we’ve started like corn and soya bean,” the minister said.
Mr Mustapha also referenced the trial farm which is currently being cultivated by a group of local investors who bought seeds from Brazil.

“The government is looking to expand on that industry to be able to provide the proteins for the poultry industry from that area. The government has budgeted $500 million to develop the infrastructure in the area,” Minister Mustapha said.

Further, the minister said the government was moving ahead with the development of the deep-water harbour in Berbice and that persons from Roraima would be able to utilise this facility to export their produce, rather than having to travel up to the coast of Brazil to do so.

Minister Mustapha also noted that because Guyana is once again playing the lead role for agriculture within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), production has to be expanded in order to reduce the region’s hefty food import bill, while advancing the agri-food agenda.

“Our President is the lead spokesperson for agriculture in CARICOM. He has proposed to CARICOM how to advance the agri-food agenda, how to reduce imports into CARICOM from outside of the region, more specifically agricultural products. That means we have to embark [on] producing a larger scale and Guyana is now poised to be one of the most important countries in CARICOM to move the agri-food system forward,” Minister Mustapha elaborated.

Nonetheless, should large-scale cattle farming commence in the Rupununi, it could see Guyana’s livestock earnings increasing exponentially. Already for this year, between January 2021 and June 2021, Guyana has earned in excess of $18.7 million from its livestock industry.

The breakdown, provided by Minister Mustapha, shows that duckling sales topped $6.8 million, while the sale of black giant chicks surpassed $2 million. However, the bulk of the country’s livestock earnings centre on the sale of ducks, cattle, sheep, pigs and goats, which total $9,898,077.

In recognising the importance and the potential of the livestock industry, the Government of Guyana had pledged to not only invest in the development of the sector, but also accommodate further investments.

As it is, investments in Guyana’s poultry industry have also seen tremendous growth. Available statistics show that private injections into this industry have surpassed more than US$67 million ($14.4 billion).

Traditionally, the demand for outputs from the poultry industry has always been high, but the zero-rating of this commodity and other adjustments, between August and now, have created the conditions for wider investments and more lucrative results.

As a matter of fact, when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government assumed office in August 2020, efforts commenced to remove Value Added Tax (VAT) on fertilisers, agrochemicals, pesticides and key inputs in the poultry sector including poultry feed, building materials and packaging; the government also gave the poultry industry zero-rated VAT status.

Since those adjustments, there has been a stark increase in investments in this industry with about 500 new farmers getting into poultry farming between August and December, 2020, alone. Minister Mustapha has said that the increased interest in the industry augurs well for Guyana, and will supplement the growth of the country’s burgeoning oil-and-gas sector.

In his 2021 National Budget speech, Mustapha said that the measures introduced in the government’s 2020 budget initiated a reversal of all the challenges facing the livestock industry and approximately 5,000 small farmers and broiler producers.

Budget 2021 allocates GYD$806 million to the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), an increase of $46 million. With the interventions of Budget 2021, the government said that it hopes to create an environment for local producers to benefit from the increasing demand for meat coming from the thriving oil and gas companies, as well of other local businesses.

Worryingly, meat import for 2019 was pegged at $20 million, even though Guyana is self-sufficient in meat. Going forward, Minister Mustapha said that much emphasis will be placed on gaining access to emerging markets, especially the high-end supermarkets, hotels, as well as players within the mining and petroleum sectors. An established Brazil market could possibly be an area to start.

Nonetheless, the Secretary of State, during his meeting with minister Mustapha, was accompanied by the President of NF Agriculture Inc. Mr. Yucatan Reis and Ms. Ilaine Heinz


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