With hot peppers selling at $500 per bag (more than the price of a barrel of oil), Caribbean Competitiveness Forum director Indera Sagewan-Alli has lamented that the nation did not have an agricultural policy, some 55 years after celebrating its’ Independence from Great Britain.
A barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was trading yesterday at US $50.55 per barrel which, when converted to TT dollars, is $343.74.
Sagewan- Alli was speaking at a trade and economic development seminar at the Enchanted Gardens banquet hall, North Road, New Grant, Princes Town on Wednesday evening.
Saying she had been advocating for the diversification of the economy towards the agricultural sector for the past 23 years, Sagewan-Alli said the sector had been written into the policy documents since Independence without any significant progress.
“Caroni Green was engaged in a significant effort at producing citrus for export, but it was allowed to go to nothing,’ she said, adding, “This current government has not articulated anything about agriculture.
“In this industry you have suffered from a lot of old talk,’ she said. “You have to respect yourself and you have to understand the value of the lobby.”
She pointed out that as a “market lady” who shopped for her fresh produce at the Tunapuna market, she had observed that one lemon at the farmers market was retailing at $15.
And with the moringa plant now being hailed worldwide as the next superfood, she wondered where were the agricultural estates for both the moringa and the once-blooming citrus industry.
She also lamented that although Trinidadian cocoa was a fine-flavour cocoa which was a worldwide-accepted benchmark in the global cocoa industry, locally the industry was in decline, as the cost of producing cocoa was a deterrent despite high global prices.