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Meat production sector set for major expansion

– 43 per cent growth expected this year, President Ali says

AS Guyana works aggressively to meet the 2025 food security targets, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has said that the country’s livestock sector is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years.

While speaking at the launch of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) last Friday, the Head of State disclosed that the country’s meat production alone is projected to increase by 43 per cent from over 47,000 metric tonnes in 2020 to more than 67,000 metric tonnes in 2023, with a further 50 per cent growth anticipated in 2025.

President Ali said that Guyana is also collaborating with Barbados to increase mutton production. This will see the Mahaica/Berbice region being well positioned to become the livestock capital of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

As part of this initiative, the Barbadian government will be suppling Guyana with 1,000 Black Belly Sheep. Of that number, 473 have already been transported to Guyana and a third shipment is expected shortly.

To advance the industry further, 13,000 acres of pasture have been developed for cattle farmers, and the construction of two abattoirs to international standards is underway. Additionally, two dairy processing facilities are under construction, a total investment of over US$30 million.

President Dr Irfaan Ali addressing farmers and residents at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice in 2022 (File photo)

With self-sufficient poultry production already achieved, budgetary allocations have been made for the construction of a broiler breeding facility in 2023 to reduce dependence on hatching egg imports.

Finally, the government is seeking co-investment opportunities in areas such as a sausage plant, a protein plant for aquaculture, and a chicken nugget facility to meet local and regional demand.

President Ali, in his remarks, noted that the Caribbean Week of Agriculture is an important forum for leaders to not only review their success but to address the remaining targets.

Ali revealed that, in order for the region to achieve its ambitious food security targets by 2025, in excess of 1.4 million metric tons of commodities will have to be produced over the next two years.

“We are committed to lead, and to lead as a good example, vision 25 by 2025 represents a tipping point for the Caribbean. Failure must not be contemplated. We must persevere. Paralysis of action will be fatal,” the Guyanese Head of State said.

The Ministerial Task Force, which is chaired by Guyana’s agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, has partnered with the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) to identify commodities for concentrated regional policy support.

According to President Ali, these commodities include poultry meat, corn, soya beans and rice for feed production, meat (beef, pork and mutton), niche vegetables and coconut products.

Dr. Ali further urged regional leaders to formulate implementable actions on issues such as resilient food production systems, trade solutions (online platforms, facilitating financial flows, block chain applications, transportation solutions), new agribusiness opportunities (youth and women involvement), marketplace and product development, secure innovative funding and agri-food investment opportunities.