Law changes could push beef exports-ministry
Cow census planned

Stabroek News
November 23, 2002

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Proposed changes to legislation governing livestock production could soon boost government plans to establish export markets for beef.

This was the view expressed yesterday at a media briefing hosted by the Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh to highlight the immediate and long-term plans for the livestock sector.

Deputy Programme Director of the National Dairy Development Programme (NDDP), Dr Nicholas Waldron, told reporters yesterday that some changes have been proposed to the present legislation to meet international requirements and these would be ratified very soon.

Dr Waldron noted that since Guyana had been declared free of foot and mouth disease by the International Office for Epizootics (OIE), the NDDP has been working towards the exportation of beef and a series of initiatives have been taken in preparation.

He noted that the declaration was only the first step in these initiatives while other aspects included cooperation with Brazil, which has provided technical and material assistance. One aspect of this assistance, he said, was the provision of reagents to test for other diseases besides foot and mouth, which could possibly hinder the exportation of beef such as tuberculosis. Guyana is also receiving technical assistance from Brazil to perform a complete cattle census next year which will assist in the management of herds "when the time for exportation comes," he said.

The CARICOM Secretariat, and private exporters have also investigated possible markets, Waldron said.

Another aspect of preparation is the increase of imports of semen for cattle reproduction, which he said many farmers are taking advantage of and the results of which were exhibited at the recent Cattle Show, where the various breeds were said to be very impressive. A lot of technical assistance has also been given to several entrepreneurs, in cattle rearing for example, where recommendations were made for suitable areas, suitable management systems and in processing. He noted that one of these persons has gone a very far way in terms of preparing for processing meat for export.

Waldron however emphasised the Ministry's work on legislation, which he said is one of the major steps towards exploiting the overseas market. He said a substantial amount of work had been done, especially in the veterinary and animal health aspects and some changes had to be made to accommodate international requirements. He said the legislation is expected to be ratified very soon and had already been sent to the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Minister Sawh meanwhile noted that there were substantial gains in the poultry sector, and, according to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Bhowan Balkarran, with the expansion of the local industry, imports of chicken products could soon be eliminated. He cited a report that imports had already decreased by 78%.

Balkarran noted that over the past five years there has been a gradual increase in poultry production, while the production cost in Guyana is among the lowest in the Caribbean. He observed that with increased production it is projected that the country could soon have a surplus to export and the industry is now looking at markets in the Caribbean. He also noted that production has increased in the egg sector.

According to the Economic Policy Unit's Quarterly Economic Review, "the poultry industry has emerged as one of the prominent economic success stories in Guyana. Major new investments were responsible for local production exceeding 11 thousand tons during the first nine months of this year - more than 40% over that in the corresponding period in 2001."

Programme Director of the NDDP, Meer Bacchus said valuable technical assistance from Brazil would continue with remaining activities including the training of two Guyanese in the making of value-added dairy products (in Brazil) and a visit to Guyana by a consultant to assist in the preparation of an action plan for beef exports.

Meanwhile, efforts are also being made to obtain funding for the establishment of a Dairy Products Unit at the St Stanislaus Dairy farm, Bacchus said.

He said a project proposal has been submitted by the Guyana dairy development project for this unit to become functional in 2003. Yogurt and soft cheeses are to be the main products. Private entrepreneurs interested in making dairy products would also be trained at this unit.

Bacchus noted the commissioning of the Dantzig Dairy Development Plant, which produces plain, vanilla and strawberry pasteurised milk. Chocolate flavoured milk is to go into limited production next year.

Bacchus also highlighted a milk supplementation study undertaken by the Guyana Dairy Development Project. Dantzig's pasteurised milk is being used in the study where 252 students from the Novar, Airy Hall and Calcutta Nursery Schools of Region 5 are each receiving a 250 ml pouch of milk every school day. The study began on February 25 of this year and is expected to end on December 13. A nutritionist recruited by the NDDP will evaluate the study, to assess growth improvement and to determine whether positive changes occurred in the students from this exercise.

Sawh remarked that the study was very successful and the students were "much more bright and much more developed." He stated that the project would be expanded to include all nursery schools in Region 5 and possibly primary schools.

Duck and sheep production, two sectors which had been largely abandoned are now on the rebound, according to senior research scientist with the National Agricultural Research Institute, Dr Robin Austin. Austin recalled that in 1998 the Mon Repos livestock farm was handed over to NARI with only 119 ducks. As part of a joint venture with the People's Republic of China the farm is now hatching 3,700 ducklings per week.

He also noted that relations had been established with farmers and the farm supplies some 1600 farmers in all ten regions. As anecdotal proof of the sector's development, he said, that in 1998 no restaurants had duck on their menu, and now there are duck curry competitions.

In sheep production, he said that in three years the farm had earned over $2M from selling 185 breeding rams, despite starting with only 48 sheep. Austin also pointed to additional efforts to develop different breeds of ducks and sheep. (Andre Haynes)

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