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Model farm to be developed in Guyana through collaboration with Barbados

Published in Demerara Waves, 7 Oct 2013

October 7, 2013

During a Joint Commission meeting where representatives from Guyana and Barbados met at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2013, a decision was taken to establish a Model Farm in Guyana.

This farm intensify the efforts to have farmers benefit from quality breeds of Barbados Black Belly Sheep of which Guyana will use through cross-breed to improve its flock of Small Ruminants.

Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramnsammy pointed out that over next few weeks, the Ministries of Agriculture for the two countries will be working collaboratively with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Institution of Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and the Centre of Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI), to expand the efforts Guyana is already making on its stock of Barbados Black Belly Sheep.

"We have been using Black Belly females with male Texel from the United Kingdom, crossing them to create the Guyanese breed of Texana that are well suited to the Guyanese environment and that have added to the success of our farmers," Dr. Ramsammy said.

To ensure transparency in its distribution, the Guyana Livestock Development Agency (GLDA), will be working with farmers countrywide to form a cluster where pure breed stocks will be maintained to benefit livestock farmers. This move is to ensure that the GLDA is not sole distributor of the cross breeds.

"Why do we take these efforts in Guyana and why do we have to gather at this auspicious time at CWA to talk about innovation for the Small Ruminants industry? Clearly I have said there is currently a market of 15-20,000 tones. It amounts to an industry that our farmers can become engaged in and I rather suspect it will grow" the Minister said.

The Small Ruminant industry is critical to this market and Dr. Ramsammy is optimistic that once farmers capitalize on this opportunity they stand to benefit significantly.

The consumption of sheep and goat meat presently stands at 80 percent, and is currently imported from New Zealand and Australia.

"I do not understand how we with our collective wisdom could accept a situation where 70-80 percent of goat meat must come from New Zealand and Australia and I am not saying nothing bad about the farmers from New Zealand and Australia, they have done an excellent job; but I believe that we in the Caribbean can match that job and can eliminate the need to import the meat.

I don't want to be on my death bed knowing the fact that I was Minister of Agriculture of Guyana and that we are still bringing meat from New Zealand and Australia not because we feel like but because we need to... Often we spend US$30M to import these things at a time when our fiscal status is challenging us, at a time when our debts is stagnating development in our region and the answer is before us," the Agriculture Minister added.

Barbados presently has the most advanced breeding programme, and Guyana is benefiting from its expertise. The Guyana/Barbados partnership agreement will also see veterinary professional from GLDA visiting Barbados shortly with the aim of adapting their technical expertise. This will be followed by a team from Barbados visiting the GLDA's facilities.