You are here
Minister on growing food import bill: Encourage youth in field of agriculture
The agricultural sector, and in particular farming, must become an attractive industry to the young people of the nation or this country’s already expensive food import bill will continue to grow steadily. So said Minister of State in the Ministry of Food Production, Jairam Seemungal, at a seminar hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance of Small Agro-Processors at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association, Barataria. The seminar, which was held last Friday, was titled: “Grants and other Financial Sources available to Agro-processors.”
Seemungal said his ministry had many initiatives that they intended to implement soon which would help to give the entire agricultural sector a much-needed boost. “We need to make the industry attractive to young people. If you don’t make the industry attractive to young people, they would not venture into it and we need to show them dollars and cents and how much money they can make,” he said.
He added that a lot more needed to be done to help make the sector more viable. “The ministry has not been functioning in a way that represents the farmers’ needs,” he said. He said that over the last few years, the ministry had been developing an action plan to correct this.
One such initiative is to implement fixed contracts with farmers who would produce a specific amount of a crop for an organisation and would no longer have to worry about price variations in the market, he said. Seemungal said this initiative would mean the agricultural sector partnering with various organisations like the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force to help farmers produce specific crops in bulk for a fixed income.
“What the ministry has realised also is that it is necessary to empower many other organisations to do this similar type of correspondence between the ministry and farming organisations...When you have many organisations such as yours assisting, there is very little or no room for failure,” he said.
Seemungal revealed that the ministry would begin the contract farming initiative soon and that today’s budget would reflect some measures in that direction. Among those measures is the requirement for farms to be certified to enter into the fixed contracts, he explained.
“You must determine what are the products you want and the quantity in which you require these products so we can cater for it. You see if you don’t know what you want then we will not be able to cater for it,” he said. Seemungal said once this type of system is put in place, then the agricultural sector can look to increase export of local products while cutting down on the food import bill. He used the production of honey as example. He said T&T had won awards in Europe for the best honey for two consecutive years before the country was banned for not being certified to sell honey to the European market.
This certification is another initiative that will be put in place as the ministry is seeking experts from Brazil to help build labs in the country where locally-produced honey will be certified to enter the world market. He highlighted some places like Tamana and Matura, where people would be willing to harvest the honey and where the bees would not be a danger to anyone. He encouraged those present to think of long-term business in terms of agriculture.
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.