You are here
Government moves to increase citrus fields in Todds Road, La Gloria
Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj says three factors have been contributing to the decline in T&T’s citrus industry. The minister said the frequent rainfall in 2012, lack of maintainment on citrus fields, and the limitation of citrus seedlings were reasons for the decline.
Maharaj outlined the factors one week after agro processors had complained to the Sunday Guardian that their businesses were being affected by the unavailability of citrus fruits on the market. The agro processors blamed the closure of Caroni 1975 Ltd and problems encountered at the Todd’s Road citrus estate in Central by farmers.
The shortfall had left a sour taste in the mouths of the business owners who called on Maharaj to allow them to import when supply is limited. Maharaj admitted that consumption of citrus in the country was 32,271 tonnes, while production was 1,537 tonnes. He was responding to a list of questions e-mailed to him on March 1.
“It is known that citrus need a dry period in order for the plants to shift from the flowering to fruiting stage. Therefore, with the constant rainfall that occurred in 2012, the plants may not have been given this opportunity, thereby resulting in lower yields,” Maharaj said. “Also, there is high and low production period of all fruits—October to December, January to February and March to April.”
The seasons, Maharaj explained, were not consistent and varied annually depending on the location, soil type, cultural practices and weather patterns. Since the closure of Caroni 1975 Ltd, Maharaj said, citrus fields had not been maintained which had led to a drastic reduction in the supply of the fruits. Also, he said, the St Augustine nursery was mandated to produce 500,000 citrus seedlings annually to facilitate the deficit.
Maharaj: Citrus production will increase
Maharaj explained that as the demand for citrus remained constant and supplies decreased there would be an increase in prices. He said these were the laws of economics. Data obtained from the Norris Deonarine Wholesale Market in Macoya showed that an orange which was priced at $1.54 in 2010 had jumped to $1.88 in 2012.
A bag containing 100 grapefruits were sold for $103 in 2010. However, the price had skyrocketed to $171.36 two years later. Maharaj said: “There are some farmers who have citrus fields, but the total acreage currently under production cannot supply the ever-increasing demand for the products. Other causes for the decline of citrus fields include diseases such as the citrus tristeza virus.
“There has been a growing demand for fresh citrus as well as processed citrus products such as concentrate, citrus fruit drinks, freshly squeezed juices, jams and marmalades.” Asked if agro processors can import fruits with the country’s limited production, Maharaj said they could contact the plant quarantine department for the importation of produce.
Maharaj said that in 2012, his ministry distributed over 200 acres of land to farmers and individuals who were interested in citrus production. “However, the process of distribution has been slow as a result of these individuals not receiving the deeds for the lands. “Therefore, no meaningful production has commenced as the ministry is still conducting surveys for the land. Roads still have to be done to allow access to the lands.
“Production in Todds Roads has not commenced.” Maharaj could not say how much citrus we import, since he was awaiting data from the Central Statistical Office. As Government moves to increase citrus fields in La Gloria and Todds Road in Central, Maharaj said he was optimistic that production will increase in the future.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.