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Minister: Only agriculture for former Caroni lands
The Government plans to put measures in place to ensure that land given to former employees of Caroni Ltd will be used strictly for agricultural purposes. Vasant Bharath, Minister of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs, said proposals would be brought before Cabinet to address the land use. “I am hopeful I can make a presentation to Cabinet on this matter in about two weeks’ time,” Bharath told reporters on Tuesday.
At the opening ceremony of a regional workshop on “Agricultural Journalism in the Caribbean”, held at the Hilton Trinidad the minister alluded to the Government’s current drive to distribute leases (two-acre parcels) to the former Caroni employees.
They had been promised the agricultural land in 2003 as part of their voluntary separation package. When questioned on how he intended to ensure the lands would be used solely for agriculture, Bharath said Government needed to step in since it could not “force” persons to use the land for those purposes.
He added while consensus among landowners needed to be reached before any such initiative could be implemented, he reiterated the danger of such lands being reverted to the State, if they were not used for agricultural purposes within two years from the time they were received. The objective of the three-day workshop was to develop techniques and skills in the nature of agricultural reporting within the region, with specific attention to accuracy and the quality in which some of the pertinent issues facing the industry—high food prices, water shortage, local food production and climate change—are publicly addressed.
Chairman of the workshop and Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) president Wesley Gibbings said while the media serve to highlight the positive initiatives of government in the field of agriculture, they also had the duty to hold politicians accountable for action. The workshop was the collaborated effort of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the ACM), Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (TCA).
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