Agriculture is pivotal to our development – Part 3

Dear Editor,
According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, agriculture is vitally important to all economies of the world, for the chief reason that civilisation began with agriculture. And though humanity has changed, by way of his various economic pursuits, agriculture is still pivotal to the development of all of us. The reality is as a Third World Developing Country, Guyana cannot afford to miss so great an opportunity, we need to seize the day and move ahead aggressively in agricultural development. On this note, we turn our attention to a sustainable animal husbandry programme.
Presently, Guyana is self-sufficient in the areas of beef, mutton, pork, poultry and goat meat, however, there is no reason why these cannot be produced at the export level. The challenge, therefore, is for us to arrive at sustainable increases in livestock production to secure that foreign market. Our pastoral systems need modernisation, that is, the effective management of grazing animals to the quality of forage. The development of feedlots and pasturelands is vitally important for overall livestock development. There should also be an improvement in vaccinations and other general veterinary health practices.
An intensification in an increase in the number and quality of animals and animal products produced must be accomplished in improved breeds and upgrades. In cattle (beef and dairy), sheep, goats, rabbits, pigs and poultry, here specific mention is made of the rearing of ducks. Upgrades and improved breeding can be affected by artificial inseminations and progeny testing. Crossbreeding with imported breeds from places like India and Jamaica should be looked into.
These breeds are already acclimatised and are well suited to a tropical climate. Brazil our neighbour to the South South-West is a world producer in beef and beef products, we can tap into these good relations with our neighbour and work on an aggressive improvement programme of our local herds.
Another area that needs special attention is inland fishing or freshwater fishing. With hundreds of acres of inland ponds, canals and other freshwater reservoirs, Guyana can improve on its freshwater fisheries. Inland fishing ranges from shrimp, tilapia and hassar. The last-named is a delicacy that is in great demand worldwide and Guyana can tap into this farming successfully. Government must put in place an intensified agricultural extension programme to sensitise farmers to get into this lucrative farming pursuit.
Other small animals such as iguana rearing should be explored with an eye on the export market. Iguana is another one of the meat stocks that has an international appeal where culinary delights are concerned, especially among the Guyanese diaspora. Thus, a domesticated farming technique should be worked out, that is, the breeding of iguanas to meet sustainable levels for the export trade.
In our discussion of animal husbandry goals, we must not think of it as limited to the large-scale extensive type farmer, rather, we should see this farming as one that is well suited to the small to medium-sized farms. These smaller farmers are poised to becoming partners in the new dispensation of agricultural development in Guyana.
Finally, evidence has shown that focusing on agriculture in the medium to long term is significantly more effective for the development of Third World Economies. Sustainable livestock production in developing countries is one of the best ways in which we can speed up development and improve our standing in the world.

Neil Adams