Chief Sec distributes state lands: 'Farming can make you a millionaire'

Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis, centre, gave letters of comfort to 22 farmers for occupation of agriculture lands at a ceremony on Thursday. -
Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis, centre, gave letters of comfort to 22 farmers for occupation of agriculture lands at a ceremony on Thursday. -

THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis says agriculture could be a very lucrative career.

He was speaking to a group of farmers on Thursday during a land-distribution ceremony at Belmont Road, Mason Hall.

The THA presented 22 farmers with deeds of comfort to occupy state lands for agricultural purposes. Apart from Belmont Road, farmers will also benefit from farm lands at Friendship Estate, Canaan; Lammy Road Estate, Argyle; Richmond Estate; Indian Walk Estate; Courland Estate and Goldsborough.

The initiative is part of the THA’s $50 million farmland development programme which seeks to increase the level of agricultural production on the island.

Dennis, who is also the Secretary of Forestry, Food Production and Fisheries, told the farmers they have the potential to become millionaires.

“I am aware that in the agriculture sector, the food production sector across Trinidad and Tobago, there are several well-off individuals, several millionaires even here in Tobago and, therefore, you must see this as an opportunity to make yourselves millionaires; to be able to produce sufficient food, to be able to produce sufficient commodities, whether it be eggs, pork, chickens, whatever it is, to ensure that you are able to run successful businesses.”

He said agriculture must be seen as a business.

“Yes, I appreciate that some of you will do it as a hobby and as maybe an opportunity for exercise and some good vocation. But I am saying in this case where we are giving you access to state resources, this has to be a business and you have to ensure that even for your own selves and your own families that you make this into a successful and productive business so that Tobago can create more millionaires. And you, as millionaires, will pay your taxes and also contribute to your various communities in other ways.”

Dennis, who has taken a keen interest in the sector since assuming the position of chief secretary in May 2020, said he considers the distribution ceremony the most significant achievement of his tenure thus far.

With state lands at their disposal, Dennis also told the farmers they have an opportunity to contribute to the economic development of Tobago and the country by extension.

“So, plan, work hard and partner with other Tobagonians, engage other Tobagonians and even Trinidadians if necessary and ensure that you make the best of this opportunity – an opportunity that other individuals wish they had.”

Poultry farmer Nyron Orr, 33, who received close to five acres of land at Belmont Road, welcomed the opportunity to increase production.

“In Tobago, we pretty much import everything we eat, all the chicken. And, if you look at the market, it comes directly from Trinidad, which is not really a bad thing but at the end of the day we have the lands so we have the opportunity and we can produce it. So, why not do it?”

The Mt St George resident, who has been involved in poultry farming for the past five years, believes more young people should become involved in agriculture.

“More people could get involved in agriculture because at the end of the day, the global population keeps increasing and food will be a priority for people to survive. I will also be getting older so somebody will have to take over from me or someone else who started the process.”

Orr said depending on how his poultry farming develops, he will consider branching off into other types of agriculture.

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"Chief Sec distributes state lands: 'Farming can make you a millionaire'"

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