Yet again, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat has called on ex-Caroni workers with leased two-acre parcels of agricultural land to cultivate it.
Rambharat warned if they did not do so, the State would reclaim the land for redistribution.
He said plot-by plot-surveys done last year showed there are about 9,200 plots. He estimated that about 3,500-4,000 fall under the Estate Management and Business Development Company Ltd (EMBD) and more than 3,000 under the Commissioner of State Lands.
Only about 15 per cent of the land is being used for the intended purpose, he said. In some cases, the lessees are not using it at all.
The land was part of the Voluntary Separation Enhancement Packages (VSEP) to workers of the now-defunct Caroni (1975) Ltd.
Rambharat said, "I have asked the EMBD and the Commissioner of State lands to take steps. One is a notice which has to be served on everybody to cultivate..
"For those who cannot do that, the land has to be retaken.
"I think when the land is retaken, it will be available for us (government) to advertise to the public."
He made the comments to reporters after a distribution ceremony of lease letters for agricultural land parcels on Wednesday evening. The event took place at the Society Hall Lodge at Prevatt Street in Marabella.
The 17 recipients/farmers were from Bayshore (Trainline), which falls under the San Fernando West constituency.
Rambharat said despite the government's spending a significant amount of money on developing land for the VESEP recipients, they continued to complain.
"It is always an excuse, But in 2015 there was a $400 million road programme targeted to servicing some of those two acres parcels in south and central Trinidad," Rambharat said. "I estimate that the land that has been developed for agriculture and has not been used so far – the value of that is about $10 billion."
Attorney General and MP for San Fernando West Faris Al-Rawi also attended the ceremony.