You are here
Cane farmers pledge to assist with food security
The Cane Farmers Association plans on establishing, with the assistance of funding from the European Union (EU) and the Government of T&T, an “economic and social zone” in south Trinidad. The zone will assist and provide sustainable income for the former cane planter/producers and also boost local food security and food production.
The group’s president, Seukeran Tambie; and education and research officer, Thomas Sotillio, spoke with the T&T Guardian after a meeting at the Eric Williams Financial Complex with Devant Maharaj, Minister of Food Production; Dr Bhoe Tewarie, Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development; European Union Representatives Daniela Tramacere (Minister Counsellor and Charge d’Affaires); and Kathrin Renner (International Aid Officer) to discuss the grant’s use.
The group sent a proposal to the European Commission last year and it was accepted. The proposal identifies how the funds would be used to assist the farmers. Both the cane farmers and the Government were locked in a battle over the EU$72 million, which the farmers claimed was not used to assist them. Many of the farmers, Tambie said, have had difficulties moving on since the closure of the sugar industry in 2003.
Both Tambie and Maharaj said the meeting went well and they were satisfied with the progress made. “The role of this meeting was to develop a clear position of the role of all parties in this issue. We have established the role of the EU, the role of the Government and the role of us, being the main beneficiaries, in this issue,” Tambie said.
A proposal was made to the European Commission last year to provide social and economic support to the cane farmers. When asked what the farmers wanted, the group identified a secretariat to handle their administrative work. The proposed secretariat would develop the proposal to assist the group in the development of its social and economic zone.
“We are on the same page finally. The Government has now come on board and we are now seeing eye-to-eye. The Government is now listening to us. I don't think you will see antagonistic issues raising between the Government and us,” Tambie said.
The secretariat, Sotillio said, will also be looking at the social impact of the closure on its members and offering recommendations to address the issue. There are some elderly members and people who have “fallen through the social structure and they need support, possibly targeted support and this will be built into the proposal as to how these people should be taken care of,” he said.
The economic zone is expected to produce a livelihood for the farmers, good roads and other income generating opportunities. Both Maharaj and EU representative Tramacere said the meeting went well. “We are all very satisfied about the outcome. Everyone is working on common ground. We have set common objectives and think it has been a very positive and constructive meeting,” Tramacere said.
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.