Trinidad and Tobago’s agricultural production saved by Venezuelan labour.- Minister

— Says Agriculture  Minister Clarence Rambharat

(Trinidad Express) Agriculture  Minister Clarence Rambharat said there has been a global increase in food prices, and Trinidad and Tobago’s agricultural production was saved because of Venezuelan labour.

“We’ve heard a lot of times about redeploying CEPEP and URP workers. I’ll tell you the one boost to agriculture in relation to labour has been the availability of the Venezuelan workers and that, in my view, has saved our farmers and saved our agriculture production,” Rambharat said during the Senate sitting on Tuesday.

He was responding to a motion on the adjournment of the Senate moved by Opposition Senator Wade Mark.         

Rambharat said Trinidad and Tobago feeds itself with a combination of imported staples and other food, as well as locally-produced food.      

Globally, food prices rose by the end of September 2021 by 30 cent compared to the previous year.

“While we have seen increases in the supermarket, it may not be to the extent of 30 per cent of every item. It varies accordingly,” Rambharat noted.

These increases are based on a number of factors, including Covid-19 and in relation to shutdowns around the world, particularly affecting internal transport arrangements in Europe, Asia and North America.

The minister said labour supply has also been affected, as well as shipping.

He said availability and pricing have also been driven by flooding across the world, as well as drought and extreme cold.

Rambharat said these problems cannot be addressed simply by ramping up production.

He maintained that the Government has created the right environment for agriculture driven by a $500 million stimulus and attention to addressing issues in agriculture such as land leases and tenure.

“When you look around the country from the start of Covid to now, no one can say to me that they’ve seen shortages in the supply of local fruits and vegetables except where the availability is seasonal,” he said.

Rambharat said this is a result of the work of a sub-committee chaired by Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon working with the stakeholders to identify areas where assistance was needed.

He said the most important aspect of this process was the declaration of agriculture as an essential service.

Farmers have been able to plant, harvest and sell, he said, noting that three new farmers’ markets were launched.

Mark, in moving the motion, called for the Government to take measures to ensure food security.

He said there should be a redeploying of CEPEP and URP labour and marry that with private farmers to get involved in agricultural production and expansion to have food security.

“So dangerous has the situation emerged that persons who are unemployed and who have not had an increase since 2013, you have had parents, women, children skipping meals… children not being given three square meals a day,” he said. “I call on the Government to put forward a proper and adequate plan to ramp up agricultural production and food expansion in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Mark said there was no doubt that the global supply chain has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, among other factors, which has led to astronomical increases in the cost of food.

He said importers are ­having difficulty in accessing foreign ­exchange and people are ­paying higher prices for goods and ­services.

 

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Comments

  • wally n  On 12/06/2021 at 8:41 pm

    Bunch of lazy asses…hope Venezuela floods them..not willing to work to feed themselves

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