UMAMI, MAKING THE GUYANESE TASTE MAGICAL AND UNFORGETTABLE

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Guyana’s livestock sector, which includes dairy and beef cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, goats,

wildlife and other animals such as rabbits and bees, has proven to be a self sufficient industry. Even though it is not a major activity in Guyana because of a shortage of adequate pasture land and the lack of adequate transportation, it has been identified by various international bodies as holding much promise to boost Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In 1987, there was an estimated 210,000 cattle, 185,000 pigs, 120,000 sheep, and 15 million chickens in the country. The country imported Cuban Holstein-Zebu cattle in the mid-1980s in an effort to make it self-sufficient in milk production. By 1987, annual production had reached 32 million liters, or only half the target quantity. Meeting this is still a national goal that is on the agenda of the agriculture sector.

Nonetheless, the livestock sub‐sector today contributes approximately 13.6 percent of the agricultural GDP and 2.8 percent of the total GDP. This sub‐sector is responsible for the production of poultry meat, eggs, beef, pork, mutton and milk.

Livestock production systems are of various forms which include extensive cattle ranching in the savannahs to promote production of beef. There are also small‐size family farms to promote the production of milk, poultry, small ruminants and pigs.

 

The poultry industry remains one of the single most important industries in the livestock sub‐ sector in terms of employment, contribution to GDP and production. The poultry industry is dualistic in both its spatial location and structure of production. Large‐ scale broiler processors are typically organized on relatively extensive areas that are highly mechanized.

 

There are an estimated 100 independent commercial broiler farms, varying in sizes from 95 m2 – 1,600

 

m2. with the large farms accounting for 4,700 m2. A number of processors contract farmers to supply live birds and these ‘contract grower’ farms account for about 38,100 m2 of farm space. In addition, it is estimated that there are some 3,000 small ‘back yard’ farmers with average sizes of 25m2 .

 

As  for  the  production of   pigs,   there   are approximately 2500 pig farmers, located mainly in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six. The number of pigs reared in Guyana is approximately 200,000 head; Production is generally a ‘back yard’ type system, pursued mainly by small farmers as part of an integrated farming system.  A few farmers practice large scale commercial swine production with over 100 head of pigs. A wide range of local products and by‐ products are used for feeding pigs, these include commercial feeds, rice bran, copra meal, wheat middling, molasses, fish meal,

 

shrimp meal, kitchen waste and swill. With regard to the small ruminant

 

sector, there are approximately 130,000 head of sheep and 79,000 head of goats. Guyana is one of the countries with the greatest number of sheep within the CARICOM region; however, it is perhaps the country with the lowest production parameters. The carcass dressing weight and other production parameters lag behind those of its Caribbean counterparts.

 

The local sheep stock is predominantly of the Barbados Blackbelly breed type, and the goats Creole. There is an increased demand for breeding animals; consequently, farmers have been importing other exotic breeds of sheep such as the Katahadin and the Dorper, and there is also a programme for the introduction of the Texel. The use of the Boer breed has seen tremendous increases in the goat parameters

 

Furthermore, Guyana is believed to have between 220,000 – 250,000 head of beef and dairy cattle. They are spread mainly in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine and Ten. The principal dairy producing Regions are Two, Three, Four, Five and Six while the main beef producing regions are Regions Three, Five, Six, Nine and Ten. A 2006 census revealed that the cattle populations of Regions Five and Six were 69,478 and 41, 148 heads, respectively.

In an era where pathogens from animals are entering the oceanic, as well as human internal ecosystem, a clear picture has emerged regarding emerging diseases. Man is becoming increasingly concerned about accessing safe, wholesome and affordable food, particularly food emanating from livestock. In an effort to develop the architecture that will support our drive to satisfy this need, several entities in livestock were unified under one new arms-length or semi-autonomous agency, the Guyana Livestock Development Authority.

The thrust of the agency is to “promote greater efficiency in the livestock product industry and to provide enhanced services in livestock husbandry, livestock health and research so as to make provision for effective administration and regulation of trade, commerce and export of livestock or livestock products and for matters related and incidental.”

As one of the newest agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture, it delivers public services related to animal production, animal health, animal genetics, marketing, training and extension services as well as regulatory services.

 

Several programmes are planned and implemented under GLDA’s mandate. One involves protecting the gains of animal production and genetics through the provision of timely veterinary interventions and minimizing the threat of disease from internal and external sources.

 

Veterinary drugs and the importation of animals are also regulated under this programme. Another programme involves infusing local animal stock with new genetics to enable our farmers to benefit from higher productivity. Techniques of artificial insemination and embryo transfer form part of our regular strategies. Superior genetics is supported by another programme designed to catapult our farmers into higher levels of animal husbandry through better nutrition, housing and access to authentic and validated information.

The country’s livestock population is relatively disease-free except for endo- and ecto-parasitic burdens and their associated diseases. Tuberculosis in cattle has been identified in some enclaves.

Poultry producers have been experiencing undiagnosed conditions of respiratory ailments and nervous (tremor) syndromes. Pigs and small ruminants continue to be affected by endo-parasitic burdens that have not been evaluated.

But his love for chemistry was fashioned by years of experience which he acquired while working with one of the most reputable Caribbean condiments company –Baron Products. He worked there for ten years moving up the ranks from chemist to respected Board member. He would then move on to work on a similar yet unique company of his own— Umami. Persaud explained that Umami, pronounced ou¬ma¬me, is Japanese for pleasant, savoury taste. He said that the use of that particular name came about because of his love for the Japanese culture, traditions, their efficiency and discipline in mastering their craft.

 

On all of the fifteen bottled condiments that his company produces, there are five circles on the logo, four of which represent sweet, sour, salt and bitter. He said that the fifth circle is the Umami taste. The colours of the logo also represent the national flag, the Golden Arrow Head.

 

The young entrepreneur said that the company was incorporated in May 2013, but actually made its first dollar in November of that year; hence the anniversary of the company is celebrated in that month.

 

“My wife and I consider ourselves true patriots. We love the fact that we have something that is Guyanese and that people in and out of Guyana are able to share in our taste. And it all goes back to my love for creating the things which give food that magical mystery. It is a fulfilling feeling when persons can tell you that they really enjoy the quality of our product. It means a lot because each product was carefully and uniquely designed to provide a taste that is fresh and local and most importantly, can attract attention on the international stage,” Persaud added.

The chemist said that his manufacturing company, though relatively young, has already penetrated markets throughout the length and breadth of the country and after accepting proposals from regional and international markets, the Guyanese product is also represented abroad. He mentioned some of these territories to be Tortola, St. Martin and the USA.

He noted that currently, the company has 16 different products with their factory located in Lusignan. Some of these include: pepper sauce, Chinese sauce, blended green seasoning, Bar¬B¬Que sauce, tomato ketchup, and garlic sauce. The businessman noted however, that starting his now successful company did not come easy.

“When we started out, it was tough. I mean every hurdle or obstacle a new business would encounter, we had to deal with . When we first brought out our products there were

the usual comments like “oh this looks Chinese”, “I don’t know these people so I’m sticking to what I know”, etc., but given our persistence and drive and belief in our product, we were able to achieve brand loyalty and provide customers these quality products at an affordable price. For me, it’s about quality and making this taste part of the culinary traditions,” the chemist said.

He added, “A lot of thought went into the packaging because there is a myriad of foreign products that you have to compete with in the markets and that means you have less time to capture the attention of the consumer. And so we had to import the materials to bottle and package it to have a very attractive product. But we are most proud of the content of the product. It is all fresh and natural and provided by local farmers.”

Persaud said that soon, he hopes to start providing the very packaging materials he is importing for his products. He said that his company plans on expanding by manufacturing edible oils too. For me, it’s about quality and making this taste part of the culinary traditions…

Persaud asserted, “There is a really good market out there for edible oils like soya bean oil. There is tremendous scope for it out there.”

The chemist concluded, “At the end of the day, we are pleased with the support we are given from Guyanese throughout the country and we just really want to thank them for making Umami their first choice. It is important to support your own. And we are again, elated to be welcomed into the kitchens of the Guyanese family as they add the fifth taste to their everyday dishes.”

Umami has copped several top national awards for their signature look and taste. Two of these include a special honour , that being the President’s Award from the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association; and “the Business of the Year” Award from the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Article Categories:
Agriculture · Daily Updates · Food · Issue 22

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