The Black belly sheep project was launched on Sunday in Region Five by President Dr Irfaan Ali. There, the Head of State highlighted that the inclusion of women and youth in agriculture is a part of his vision to suppress bias and create equal opportunities in the country.
To this end, he revealed that 20 per cent of the farmers included in the project will be women while 35 per cent will be persons under the age of 35.
"This is part of building the future, this is part of empowerment. These are real targets and a real approach in the involvement of people. So not only must agriculture be about food production, it must be built on erasing biases. Agriculture must demonstrate that it has the ability to create an equal society." he told the cheering crowd.
This project will see some 1,000 black belly sheep arriving in Guyana over the next two weeks and according to Dr Ali, 78 farmers have already signed up to be a part of this project.
He said this will form part of the plans to boost the region’s food security and posited that Region Five must be the "livestock capital of CARICOM."
"To do that we have to increase our production, we have to increase our quality, we have to improve our breed, we have to use more advanced technology, we have to invest in infrastructure and we have to work on building the partnership."
The goal of increasing mutton production blooms from engagements between Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and President Ali.
The target is to increase mutton production and its byproducts by 7,000 tonnes by the end of the first five years.
Benefits of this project
In a detailed presentation, it was revealed that CARICOM spends US$48M annually on the importation of mutton and its by-products with the two main suppliers being Australia and New Zealand.
Therefore, Guyana can acquire this revenue once it can keep up with the region’s demand.
Barbados has already agreed for Guyana to supply its market. This will generate a market value of US$6.8M.
Locally, 18 metric tonnes of mutton is imported with the value of US$130,000 annually and Dr Ali explained that this market will grow potentially regarding the global supply chain issue.
He explained that this project must be consistent and the Government will support farmers in achieving this consistency.
"We are going to support you with the machinery and the equipment to bring those fields and pastures up to level and will be investing in the technology and equipment to help us down the processing line."
Dr Ali said the mutton industry is a 'sleeping giant' and therefore Guyana will work to awaken this giant.
Furthermore, farmers will be expected to provide data to the Guyana Livestock Development Agency (GLDA) so that they can keep the data system up to date for future needs.