Jun 15, 2010

A Boost For Local Food Production


The renewed attention being paid by the new People’s Partnership administration to increasing T&T’s food production is welcome.

Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath has spoken about the possibility of retrieving some of the Caroni lands and rededicating them to agriculture and he also seems serious about ensuring that there is greater traction with regard to the mega-farms—only two of which have got off the ground. But while increasing the production of food locally is important, equal attention should be paid to improving the conditions under which much of the fresh produce in this country is sold. 

The visit by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to the Siparia market on Sunday has focused attention on the deplorable state of many of the nation’s produce markets. Vendors at the Siparia market who spoke with the Guardian complained about wooden stalls hurriedly thrown together, leaking roofs, the absence of storage space, no proper cold areas for the storage of fish, a lack of a regular supply of clean, running water, toilets that do not function, and inadequate security.

Indeed it is about time that our government of the day pay attention to producing as much local food as it can. We cannot survive as a nation by depending totally on foreign food production. Our economy, while successful because of our natural resources, needs to be diversified with food production playing an important role not only for our survival but also as a foreign income earner. This means that instead of importing food from the region we can now have enough production to impact the balance of trade with food items in the Caribbean region. If we can help ourselves first then we can do the same for the Caribbean region in areas other that oil and the corresponding filtering products.

The role of this newly installed government in the area of food production is welcomed and long overdue. We can now look forward to better days now that we are making an effort to make an impact on the food import bill. Now if everyone can have a back yard garden as we used to do in the "good ole days" then we will be able to help each other in the villages just as it was done long ago. We just may have come full circle here - this is a much needed change in attitude.

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