The administration’s commitment to modernize and transform the agriculture sector has over the years been moving closer to reality as more resources are being invested in making it possible.
This commitment was today furthered, with the launching of the national breed enhancement programme as part of the continued effort to improve livestock breeds to aid the industry’s growth and the diversification thrust.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud at the official launch of the project at the Guyana School of Agriculture, Mon Repos while highlighting the advantages of the new breeds urged farmers to utilise the opportunities that exist in the cattle industry.
“When we developed the Guyana Livestock Development Authority, we did that for a very strategic reason, because the previous state or the past dispensation could not have moved the livestock industry from the point whereby further growth and development were not possible,” Minister Persaud informed the many farmers gathered at the ceremony.
Livestock industry development
Minister Persaud while expressing optimism about the development of the livestock industry noted that there is a large demand for meat and “the decision to launch this programme was not just to ensure that we have enough pork, beef or mutton in local market but afford farmers the opportunity to realize their full business potential and being able to tap into the world market”.
The development of the GLDA, he said was to enable all stakeholders, particularly farmers the opportunity to realize the full potential of the industry with the required technical and professional assistance.
Minister Persaud added that the short-term vision of the enhanced breeding programme is to have Guyana exporting in excess of US $2.5M worth of beef by 2014 while the long- term goal is to export meat in excess of US $25M by 2020.
“CARICOM imports all its meats as far as from New Zealand and Central America and if we are able to develop our livestock industry as speedily as we did with other sectors, we too, can become a major exporter for meat supplies,” Minister Persaud said.
In relation to this, Minister Persaud said that Government will be investing in excess of $400M on animal health issues that will see in the coming months the construction of a modern abbatoir costing in excess in $200M and a state-of-the-art laboratory.
Creating Legislative framework
“We need to get our act together and from the Government stand point, we have put in the legislative framework ….we passed the Animal health bill, we have passed the legislation that allows the creation of GLDA and we are even looking at other legislations including the veterinarian act,” Minister Persaud said.
He urged farmers to change the way they rear cattle and sheep, since the industry today requires a new and modern approach.
Minister Persaud said that over the last three years, Government has invested in the training of veterinarians, and to date every region in Guyana has a stationed veterinarian providing free services.
Taking into account the current cattle population, Minister Persaud said it cannot sustain the local or the export markets “so we have to within the next two years be able to increase our cattle population by at least 25 to 35 percent”.
“...it cannot be the task of the Government alone, we require all stakeholders, farmers to engage and actively support the thrust of improving our local genetics, and to increase the cattle population,” Minister Persaud.
He urged farmers and veterinarians to work together in reducing the mortality rate and improving husbandry practices.
“We are not only working with cattle, but as you know we also had a national pig and sheep breeding programme which has done exceedingly well,” Minister Persaud said.
He indicated that the programme will be providing 10,000 doses of semen, for Artificial Insemination to farmers throughout the country, especially in Regions 5 and 6 which have the largest number of cattle.
The semen breeds includes the Brahman Zebu, Beefmaster, Brangus, Angus (Black), Angus (Red), Simmental (Red,) Simmental (Black) and Charolais.
He informed farmers that Government will be also be importing in excess of 1000 embryos that will come on stream this year to also promote development in the livestock sector.
“ We are doing all this because we want our farmers to have access to the best animals out there…that can give the type of meat that the export market wants ….so if we are going to bring about this change with the livestock sector we need the right breeds of animals,” Minister Persaud said.
Government, he said is cognizant of the many challenges facing the cattle industry in Guyana and has plans to address these, by working collaboratively with all stakeholders to revitalize the industry’s full potentials,” Minister Persaud said.
“We spent on this programme close to $20M and another $30M will be spent on embryo transfer…we will also be importing a set of live animals that will cost us in excess of $26M,”Minister Persaud said.
In addition, Minister Persaud said Government will also be investing in the construction of state-of-the-art breeding station in Mon Repos.
Minister Persaud said that many developed and developing countries are being faced with challenges as a result of changing weather patterns and rising sea levels.
“I want you the farmers to recognize that we need to make changes because the agriculture of today has to change if we are going to survive …..We hear about the issue of climate change, if we do not adjust and adapt we can be left behind and that is why you hear us talking about having a climate approach,” Minister said.
He said that the livestock sector in Guyana has been very vulnerable to the effects of climate change and “that government will be working with farmers to upgrade, fix infrastructure and develop systems to reduce the vulnerability”.
Chief Executive officer of GLDA, Dr. Dindyal Permaul, Manager of Livestock cluster Nigel Cumberbatch and Head of Annual Production Unit Dr. Dwight Waldron who were also part of the ceremony, expressed optimism about the local cattle industry.
Cumberbatch said that cattle industry has great potential for local and international markets.
After the ceremony, Minister Persaud and the gathering witnessed the Artificial Insemination of a cow.