Groundbreaking €636,000 agri traceability, surveillance programmes launched

To ensure that cattle and other livestock are free of diseases and in a bid to improve market access and boost the export of leafy greens and pineapples from Guyana, the Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday launched a livestock surveillance programme and a food traceability system.

By the official name, the two projects are ‘Strengthening Surveillance Programmes for Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis in Guyana’ and the ‘Development of a Food Traceability System for Pineapples and Leafy Greens in Guyana.’

Both projects are funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) with support from the European Union and CARIFORUM to the tune of €636,000.

It forms part of CARICOM’s effort to reduce the regional food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.

The projects were launched during a simple ceremony held at the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

It is expected that the activities under the surveillance programmes for Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis will lead to a deduction of livestock diseases while increasing export prospects to regional and international markets.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha (fourth from right), Head of CDB Private Sector Division (ag) Lisa Harding (third from right) and other officials at the launch of the projects. (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture/February 06, 2024)

Among other things, the development of a food traceability system for pineapples and leafy greens focuses on ensuring there are quality mechanisms to safeguard production.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha said the projects will “significantly” impact the country’s agri sector since it holds “immense” importance at a time when Guyana is addressing challenges.

“The project for the development of pineapple and leafy greens in Guyana is a transformative initiative that underscores our commitment to ensure quality and safe food.

‘The traceability system in the agriculture and the food sector is particularly important. An effective one can promptly identify, single out and remove unsafe food products from the market. We are having a lot of that in Guyana and we are hoping that these things can eradicate it,” Mustapha said.

The Minister further noted that the projects will support the Government’s efforts to modernise the agriculture regulatory framework.

A section of those gathered at the launch (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture/February 06, 2024)

“For Guyana to become a major exporter of agriculture products we are ensuring systems are in place for us to meet all the requirements,” he said.

In her remarks, Head of CDB Private Sector Division (ag) Lisa Harding said that the traceability project plays a vital role in the event of a disease outbreak or contamination as it allows for a quick and targeted response while also preventing further spread.

“Traceability also supports market access and export. For international trade, traceability is often a requirement not just something you could do and therefore having a robust traceability system can enhance market access and allow for the access of products,” she said.

Likewise, she noted that the surveillance programmes for Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis address the critical aspect of surveillance practices within the cattle industry while also developing an export certification policy and compliance programme capable of meeting world standards.

“This is important for reassuring trading partners of the quality and consistency of Guyana’s surveillance efforts,” Harding noted.