Government on Friday launched a $20M national programme to improve livestock breeds to aid the industry’s growth with the aim of tapping into the world market, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud at the official launch of the project at the Guyana School of Agricul-ture, Mon Repos stated 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 Guyana is able to develop its livestock industry as speedily as other sectors, it can become a major exporter for meat supplies, Minister Persaud said.
In that light, Persaud reiterated 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 abattoir, costing in excess in $200M and a state-of-the-art laboratory.
“We need to get our act together and from the government standpoint, 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 legislation including the Veterinarian Act,” Persaud said.
He noted that over the last three years, government has invested in the training of veterinarians, and to date every region in Guyana has a veterinarian providing free services.
Persaud also highlighted the advantages of the new breeds and urged farmers to utilise the opportunities that exist in the cattle industry.
And in expressing optimism about the development of the livestock industry, he pointed out that there is a large demand for meat and the decision to launch this programme was not just to ensure that there is enough pork, beef or mutton in the local market but to afford farmers the opportunity to realize their full business potential and to tap into the world market.
The development of the Guyana Livestock Develop-ment Authority, 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.
He urged farmers to change the way they rear cattle and sheep, since the industry today requires a new and modern approach.
Taking into account the current cattle population, Persaud said it cannot sustain the local or the export markets, so within the next two years Guyana must be able to increase its 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,” Persaud was quoted as saying.
The agriculture minister also disclosed 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 include the Brahman Zebu, Beefmas-ter, 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 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, Persaud said.
In addition, government will also be investing in the construction of a state-of-the-art breeding station in Mon Repos, GINA added.