Guyana certified Foot and Mouth Disease free

Stabroek News
June 2, 2001

Guyana was yesterday certified free of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) by the International Office of Epizootics, clearing a major hurdle in the resumption of beef exports.

The decision was taken at the 69th Annual General Meeting of the OIE International Committee, which was held in Paris from 27 May to 1 June. The certification was communicated to Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh yesterday, according to a release from the ministry.

There had been isolated cases of FMD in the Rupununi Savannahs, the last of which occurred in 1978, and a ban had been placed on the export of beef from Guyana. However, in 1997 Guyana applied to become a member of the OIE and during that same year submitted a request to be certified free of FMD.

In a separately prepared article on the cattle industry, the ministry said: "Certification of freedom from Foot and Mouth Disease for Guyana could not have come at a more opportune time when the cattle industry in almost all of Europe has taken a battering from the malady."

The article said that Guyana could now establish itself as an exporter of beef and beef products in a strategic move, which could result in the diversification away from agriculture.

It is understood that already overseas investors have been engaging in discussions with the ministry and other relevant government departments and that one potential investor has indicated a keen desire to invest US$10 million in the cattle industry.

Subject to certain prerequisites, the article said, certification of freedom from FMD cleared the way for the exportation of beef. One such prerequisite is the installation of export-oriented abattoirs, which conform to internationally acceptable standards.

The private sector, in this regard, is being encouraged by the ministry to seize the opportunity to begin setting up such facilities.

As a result of the recent outbreak of FMD in many European countries Guyana had taken several preventative measures which include mechanisms for sanitisation of footwear and other accessories entering the country at all major ports of entry.

FMD camps have also been established at all border crossings to execute similar exercises, including the disinfecting of vehicle wheels.

Additionally, no fresh or processed meat from FMD affected countries are allowed into the country.

An 'Emergency Animal Disease Preparedness Plan' was said to have been developed by the ministry in collaboration with other related agencies in the event FMD did enter the country. This plan involves the immediate control of animal movement, quarantine, slaughter and vaccination among other strategies.