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Government plans to reduce imported staples by values ranging between 25 to 100 per cent. This was announced by Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj on Friday when a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed to increase the use of cassava locally. he MOU was signed between Namdevco, Caroni Green, the National Schools Dietary Services Limited and Nutrimix at Chancellor Hotel in St Anns.
Maharaj said for the period 2005-2009, 236,700 tonnes of staples was imported at an annual cost of $649 million. He said this represented 29 per cent of the total food bill at a time when T&T was only producing eight per cent of the required staples. The minister said the National Food Action Plan 2012-2015 encourages strategic partnerships and alliances in agriculture involving the public and private sectors.
“I am certain today’s MOU signing will firmly root cassava as an important staple in the food security landscape of T&T,” he said. Caroni Green will be facilitating farmers who wish to plant cassava which will be sold to Namdevco. The School Feeding Programme will be introducing cassava into the 120,000 meals served daily and cassava it will also be supplied to Nutrimix to make flour and animal feed.
Maharaj said there was increased production of yam, cassava and sweet potato between 2012-2013 at rates of 15.2 per cent, 52,2 per cent and 58.2 per cent respectively.