Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha says the Black Belly Sheep Project will proceed aggressively in 2023.
The Black Belly Sheep project is Part of efforts to promote the livestock subsector and create employment while making Region Five the livestock capital of the Caribbean.
The government has said that 30 percent of the imported sheep will be given to women, 20 percent will go to young people and the persons with disabilities who are being included in rearing this livestock.
The breed is primarily raised for meat and other high demand by-products.
Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha says the final shipment from a total of 1000 Black Belly Sheep being imported from Barbados, will arrive in the coming months.
“I’m hoping that the remaining set will be coming before the first quarter of 2023. By the third quarter, everything should be in place and we can activate the process to get the farmers to start the process and they will receive their quota so we can start the brand that we want to create. That initiative is moving apace.”
The first shipment of 132 sheep, including 112 ewes and 20 rams, arrived in Guyana in August 2022.
The Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) was tasked with weaning the sheep to ensure that they adjust to Guyana’s climate as well as introducing them to new diets.
Approximately $600 million has been invested by the Government to kick start the programme, with some $177.7 million allocated in the 2022 National Budget to provide additional resources to support the project.
“Those 436 that are in Guyana, they are presently at the GLDA farm. We’ve had come increases as well because some of them have already given birth. What I am thinking is that by June, the programme will get going aggressively.”
In past years, the import value of sheep meat and mutton skyrocketed, with Trinidad and Tobago alone importing almost US$18 million in mutton, lamb, and chevon meat combined.
The Project aims to allow the Caribbean to develop its own brand to replace the New Zealand Lamb and Australian Lamb that are imported to this side of the globe.
This will heavily contribute to reducing the almost five billion US dollar food import bill of CARICOM by 25 percent by 2025.