We must not forget that Guyana remains an agricultural country

Dear Editor,

The advent of the Oil and Gas will bring untold millions to our treasury and for this we are thankful. Oil, through prudent management, will cause us to turn the bend towards progress and development. It is a road we must travel with care and caution, because oil is an exhaustible resource. Then, it behooves us to invest more in the inexhaustible resource of agriculture.

Yes, amidst the rush and aggrandization of oil we must not that Guyana remains an agricultural forget country. First on my list is that more persons be employed in the agricultural industry than oil and gas. There is a vast number of workers in the agricultural sector over and above that of the oil and gas. Secondly, we must not fall prey to the Dutch Disease, which is, pouring all our effort and attention into oil and gas to the detriment of agriculture. In this regard, I applaud the government in its efforts to continue exploring the sustainable development of the agricultural industry and at the same time newer avenues of development.

Recently the government has highlighted the need to develop the animal husbandry sector, specifically the enhancement of small ruminants. This is an area where small entrepreneurs can cash in. It is a very lucrative market… taken from the vantage point of the price for mutton right here in the Caribbean and on the wider world stage. Guyana needs to take full advantage of this venture. The growth time of the animal, its feeding and general maintenance is relatively short compared to other animals. The carcass quality is also good. Mutton remains a preferred meat kind by most of the people everywhere. And like I said, thement of the Barbadian Black Belly in our ruminant population is most welcomed and small farmers should take the opportunity to rear the breed and take command of the meat market both locally and abroad.

I would just like to spend a little more time on the rearing of the Black Belly Sheep to say that keen care must be put into its grazing grounds and the quality of forage. Small ruminants like sheep takes up less space and is a plus for the farmer. The quality of its grazing needs to be improved. Animals can be placed on farms for rotational grazing. We must take into consideration that animals compete for the same space as is the crop husbandry farmer and many of us are aware of dicey, if not confrontational, this can become. So my advice to the agriculture ministry is to adopt a system conducive to our situation here in Guyana.

Wherever there is land space for open grazing then that should be encouraged, however, in the present circumstances where two agricultural pursuits collide (please note sheep are pesky ruminants) good sense should prevail. Another area of ​​importance is the planting of good quality forage. Guyana has the nutritious paragrass and this should be planted en masse in areas where it does not exist. Other nutritious grasses that are found locally should be utilized. Guyana is well on its way in the development trajectory and agriculture is a mainstay. All efforts should be put into its modern development all towards the good and prosperity of Guyana.

Sincerely,

Neil Adams

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