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T&T, Guyana in move to boost food security
Devant Maharaj, Minister of Food Production, told the T&T Guardian that a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being prepared to bolster relations between Guyana and T&T with respect to food security. He was speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the car park for the Norris Deonarine Wholesale Market, Macoya.
He added: “A draft MOU has been prepared and will be submitted to Cabinet either this week or next week, depending on how soon the staff at the ministry can get it done. “From there, once Cabinet has no difficulty, it will go to the Guyanese Government for its vetting and approval and from there we move forward.”
Maharaj also revealed some of the ministry’s developmental plans for this year, including the construction of several packing houses (a facility where fruit is received and processed prior to distribution to market). Repeated suggestions have been made for Guyana to become the breadbasket of the region, it was stated.
Maharaj added: “The deepening and empowering of National Agricultural Marketing Developmental Corporation (Namdevco) is critical to this which would entail the construction of several packing houses. “The board is supposed to begin moving on one at its board meeting on January 17 which will be located in Couva.”
He said more packing houses would be developed as soon as the tender process had been completed. Maharaj added that greater synergies were to be developed between the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and Namdevco with the latter seeking to develop the sector’s agri-business component.
He said when someone applied for a loan, ADB would advice on the crop’s marketability to assist in securing the farmer’s financial viability and further development of marketing T&T’s products. In his feature address he said farmers in T&T, before the closure of Caroni 1975 Ltd, once had a secure market in Barbados.
He hoped that market would be available once again to T&T after a visit by Namdevco’s manager Ganesh Gangapersad showed promise. He added that Namdevco also would be opening a fish-landing site in Grande Riviere next week. Maharaj also praised Namdevco for its quick opening of the car park to alleviate the traffic problems caused by use of the market.
He said: “When this facility was not here you had a number of vehicles parked on the side, inconveniencing various houses and families in the area, making the traffic situation much more difficult than what it will be once this car park is open.”
Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation chairman and councillor for St Augustine South/Piarco/St Helena Khadijah Ameen also praised Namdevco for the park’s opening.
She added: “I am happy to be here in this regard because the problems you are attempting to solve by having this car park are problems that have impacted on our operations for quite some time. “Apart from being the chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco corporation I am also the councillor for the St Augustine South/Piarco/St Helena district, which includes this Macoya area south of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.
“I have been the councillor for this area since 2003 and for many years the impact of traffic of users of this market, the impact on the residents has been significant and at times traumatic.” Newly-appointed Namdevco chairman Ronald Forde delivered his maiden address at the ceremony. Also present were Namdevco’s CEO Krishna Ramrattan and a representative of the area’s MP Winston Dookeran.
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