First flock of Black Belly sheep arrive from Barbados
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The first flock of Black Belly sheep received by Guyana (Adrian Narine photos)
The first flock of Black Belly sheep received by Guyana (Adrian Narine photos)

IN advancing efforts to reduce the Caricom Community (CARICOM) food import bill, the first flock of Black Belly sheep was received by Guyana at the Rambaran Wharf in Georgetown on Thursday.
Some 132 sheep, inclusive of 20 rams and 112 ewes comprised the first shipment of 1,000 animals that are expected to come here over the next few months.

Minister Mustapha, while speaking to reporters, said the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) will be tasked with weaning the sheep to ensure that they adjust to Guyana’s climate as well as introducing them to new diets.

“This first batch will be taken to the GLDA location where we will prepare them to introduce them to Guyana’s conditions. They will have to wean them off the food they used to eat in Barbados, so we can give them food in Guyana and make the environment more accommodating,” Mustapha said.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

Meanwhile, the minister disclosed that works were currently moving apace in Region Five to prepare several pens for the additional sheep that are scheduled to arrive in Guyana.
Already, some 78 farmers have signalled their interest in the project, which is one of many initiatives being rolled out by Guyana and Barbados to reduce the Food Import Bill by 25 per cent in 2025.

“This here is a very important project for us in Guyana and the Caribbean; this is one of the ways we are working to reduce the Food Import Bill. When you look at the importation of meat and meat products in the Caribbean, it amounts to a large percentage of foreign revenue to import that.”

He added: “So we are hoping to build the livestock industry and Guyana has to play that leading role.”
The project will see the involvement of 30 per cent of women and 20 per cent of youth, along with differently abled persons across Guyana.

“All these groups will be involved in the rearing of Black Belly, to create and develop this brand and building this industry.”
The Ministry of Agriculture will be looking to spearhead a cross-breeding project of Black Belly sheep and local Guyanese sheep.

Barbados’ special envoy to Guyana and Suriname, Alphea Wiggins

Meanwhile, Barbados’ special envoy to Guyana and Suriname, Alphea Wiggins, said the collaboration between the two nations will see significant advancements in the agriculture sectors of both nations.
“This is a momentous occasion between Barbados and Guyana where we have seen the Saint Barnabas Accord in full action, the fact that we have shipped this sheep here safely from Barbados to Guyana tells us that we are going to get those thousands here safe and in good condition.”

The continued collaboration between the two nations will see tremendous benefits, Wiggins reiterated.
“This is a fantastic effort between Barbados and Guyana to show CARICOM and the rest of the world what collaborating between countries can do for each other… when we have concluded agreements in terms of creating one domestic space between Barbados and Guyana, more benefits will accrue to both countries.”

President Ali, at the launch of the project back in March had pointed out that the world import value on mutton and mutton products is US$8B. CARICOM alone imports 7,900 tonnes of mutton at US$48M annually. Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are the four major markets that Guyana can target.

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