Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Farmers grouse over $1.3bn for agriculture
President of the Trinidad United Farmers Association, Shiraz Khan, said he was disappointed in the budget allocation given to the agriculture sector and wondered whether the government was serious about the sector’s development. Agriculture received $1.3 billion, the lowest allocation out of all sectors. “I am very disappointed with this allocation. This was one of the largest budgets in T&T history, yet we were given the smallest amount of money,” Khan said in a telephone interview yesterday after listening to the budget presentation.
He said if the government truly wanted to place more emphasis on the agriculture industry to create food security, it needed to invest more money in the sector. “How serious is the government about agriculture?” he asked. Khan said some state boards were wasting money and there was nothing to show for it, in terms of a better developed agricultural sector. “There are just talk shops on behalf of agriculture,” he added. When asked about the government’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Guyanese government to provide initially 10,000 acres of land for immediate agricultural production and subsequently a further 90,000 acres, Khan could not understand why the country would go to Guyana. “Maybe there is cheap rent for land there. I don’t understand that deal, farmers are crying out for their land tenure,” he added.
He asked why was the government looking to Guyana when Trinidad had the resources. He also questioned government’s continued focus on Caroni farmers. Howai said yesterday 4,111 acres of lands, formerly owned by Caroni (1975) Limited, and 100 acres of state lands at Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas, were divided into six small and eight large farms for distribution to farmers and 5,800 acres of agricultural lands leased to the former employees of Caroni were being brought into production. “There are other farmers besides Caroni farmers,” he added. He said farmers needed more support from the government to ensure they were able to live a healthy lifestyle. “Having food security does not mean farmers have to be beggars,” he added.
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