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Govt advertises value of local foods
In a bid to ensure T&T becomes a food-secure nation and to foster the appreciation of local foods, the Government yesterday launched its corporate advertising campaign aimed at sensitising the public. The event, which took place at Kapok Hotel, St Clair, featured snippets of the benefit of local fruits and vegetables.
Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj, who delivered the feature address, said the campaign cost under $1 million. And, in the first time in almost a decade T&T will be exporting local crops this morning to Barbados. “This means our farmers would have an additional market apart from T&T,” Maharaj added.
By growing more local foods, Maharaj said, it ultimately reduces the country’s food import bill and affords more revenue to farmers. Urging all stakeholders to be holistic in their approach to food production, Maharaj said there were still challenges including consumers preferring imported and fast food.
“Eating patterns and the taste of these consumers have shifted over the years. What we eat today is vastly different from what our grandparents preferred. “We are impacted significantly from various franchises from north America,” Maharaj said.
While the Government had no objection to such mushrooming businesses, the minister called for a greater appreciation of local products. “The purpose of this campaign was also to remind consumers of the great value of our local foods. “We believe that simply telling the consumers that eating local is not enough to capture their attention, thus our campaign delivers a clear and unambiguous message about the benefits of eating local,” he said.
Posters detailing the importance of local food will be distributed to schools as part of the campaigning strategy. The campaign is expected to last a year and will use a variety of media including billboards and radio advertisements. A local cooking show using only locally-grown food is in the works, the spin-off of which is expected to be a cookbook detailing solely local recipes.
Asked about the sometimes exorbitant prices of local vegetables, namely tomatoes, Maharaj attributed that to several variables including flooding and the high prices of pesticides.
On the issue of the mega farms, Maharaj said efforts are still being made to obtain proper clearance from various agencies. “The mega farms, even though they have been allocated the land, that is not the end of the story from the ministry or the farmer.
“He has to get the required approval from the EMA (Environmental Management Authority), and WASA is also involved as well and these agencies have processes that take a considerable amount of time and that has delayed the farmer getting his crops from off the ground,” Maharaj said. He said he has held talks with the EMA and Ganga Singh, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, to fast-track the situation.
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