Dhano Sookoo, preisent of the Agricultural Society, agrees with the Finance Minister that permits for the importation of seeds are not new.
Sookoo told Newsday this measure is used to protect the agricultural sector.
She explained that while seeds for some crops can be bought locally, others need to be imported. In the case of these seeds, Sookoo said there must be safeguards to prevent diseases being imported.
She said it was false for anyone to claim that permits to import seeds were a new measure.
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat has also said this law is in place.
In a statement on Monday, the ministry said Finance Minister Colm Imbert noted recent commentary on the importation of certain items.
The ministry said some people in the agricultural sector believe permits have never been required for the importation of seeds, and believe this is a new move aimed at forcing farmers to buy seeds from local suppliers.
Section 3 of the Plant Protection Act reads, “No person shall import into TT any fruits, planting material, plant pest, pathogens, plant products; soil, vegetables or any other prescribed articles (hereinafter referred to as “restricted articles”) unless he first obtains a permit in accordance with the provisions of this Act or the regulations.”
The ministry said the section of the law has been in force since July 1975. The Plant Protection Act, in its Interpretation Section, further clarifies that “planting material includes buds, bulbs, cuttings, grafts, roots, acions, seeds, shrubs, trees, vines and any other part of a plant capable of propagation.”
TT Farmers’ Union head Shiraz Khan reiterated he had never heard of permits being required for the importation of seeds.