MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE Clarence Rambharat hinted that hundreds of millions of dollars is set to be allocated to the agricultural sector, should the PNM remain in government for another five years.
Rambharat, speaking at the launch of the cocoa-flavoured Angostura Bitters product at the House of Angostura yesterday, said the allocation for agriculture in the first budget of the government’s “next five years” will be to the tune of $500 million.
In the last budget, agriculture was allocated about $708 million.
“It (the allocation) is targeted at developing value-added opportunities,” Ramharat said.
He said the State, as a purchaser of local agricultural products, would make a significant contribution to what is being produced, but for the agriculture sector, including local cocoa and coffee industries, to prosper, private investment is needed. He used the local poultry industry as an example, saying it was self-sufficient, and provided about 12,000 jobs. He added that many who are employed in this industry are single mothers.
He also pointed out the private investment in a 1,200-acre farm which was once underutilised, but is expected, through public/private partnerships, to double the production of locally produced milk.
“The fortunes of this country must be driven by private-sector development,” he said.
Rambharat lauded Angostura’s investment in the cocoa industry through the launch of the new brand.
He said there was a time when the cocoa industry was well protected, but now TT has lost its position as a fine-flavour producer.
“We have to continue to take this small sector through the process of revalidating itself, meeting global standards and dealing with competition.”