Determined to improve support for agriculture in rural communities, Minister of AgricultureClarence Rambharat yesterday said he will be asking for increased funding in the 2016/2017 Budget.
He did not give a specific figure but said: "Whatever we get, it will be utilised in a way that improves what we do for farmers and fishermen."
Rambharat, who spoke to the T&T Guardian on the sidelines of a Regional Consultation on Traditional Farmer Knowledge and Innovative Practices at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, said he is not satisfied with the resources available to rural farming communities.
"Rural communities are serviced by agriculture offices. We don't have all the technical capacity and we don't have all the administrative capacity in terms of decision making. The priority is to first improve physical conditions by putting more resources, then improving the human resource we have in those offices," he said
Rambharat, who had earlier delivered the feature address at the event, importing raw materials to boost local food production is much cheaper than importing produce which farmers can grow here.
"Government is committed to ensuring that the pesticides and herbicides that are imported are affordable to the farmers. At the same time, we are committed to ensuring that those that have been declared to be dangerous and are still allowed into T&T are in fact banned. We have programmes in place to ensure reduced use of pesticides and herbicides. We understand farmers would want to use chemicals but we have to use it in a safe way."
Yesterday's consultation, hosted by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Cardi), the Inter America Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) and Caricom with funding from the European Union, is aimed at gathering information from around the region on traditional and innovative farming practices as part of an initiative under the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (APP).
Sessions include experiences from the field in small farming systems, defining 3-4 traditional knowledge thematic areas and good practices and the scope of the regional support programme for action, role of youth and women in agriculture and the transfer of knowledge and the role of traditional knowledge transfer on resilient farming systems.