UNC: There’s hope for agriculture for the region, not for Trinidad and Tobago


The United National Congress (UNC) is calling on the Government to address praedial larceny and provide the Praedial Larceny Squad with the resources it needs to fight the crime.

This was one of many issues relating to the agricultural sector the Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram addressed at the Opposition’s weekly Sunday press briefing at its Charles Street, Port of Spain office.

He renewed his call for the Government to address the matter.

Ratiram was joined by Opposition senator David Nakhid as they talked aboutcrime, the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo and the recent ban on the scrap-iron industry.

“With respect to our farmers, praedial larceny remains a foremost threat to farming and the livelihood to this group of persons.”

Ratiram said he had repeatedly spoken about issues faced by the squad. He called on Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Kazim Hosein to fix the squad.

For fishermen, piracy was a major issue. Ratiram said he met with National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds about it but absolutely nothing was done.

Ratiram said he hopes, in the upcoming budget, the Government considers setting up a coast guard base at Carli Bay, Couva, so there will be a coast guard presence along the Gulf of Paria that can patrol from south to north.

Asked if he had hopes that plans coming out of Agri-Investment Forum and Expo II would materialise, Ratiram said, regionally, there is hope for the agricultural sector; but  as a country under the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration, where several of its policies have not materialised, it appeared TT was in a hopeless place.

The forum and expo saw Guyanese president Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Barbados’ prime minister Mia Mottley call for greater food security in the region as well as urging business leaders to invest more to make the region sustainable. Ali and TT's Prime Minister also made commitments to work together to make trade easier in Caricom.

The expo ran from August 19-21.

Ratiram said, “Despite the neglect the agriculture sector has received from this Rowley-led PNM, we in the UNC take this opportunity to congratulate the participants at the expo and the Caricom heads of government for the initiatives in working towards attaining regional food security.”

He added that the issue was something Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had spoken about for a long time.

Ratiram said the country needed to work collectively and be serious about implementing what was spoken about at the expo.

Farmers were not in a better position today than they were seven years ago, he said. Ratiram said farmers faced many issues including flooding and praedial larceny.

“If our farmers cannot access the agricultural plots except on foot, how are they going to the produce and how are they going to get the produce out of the field? And when the crops remain there and rotting the field, whether above or below the ground, what happens?

“The country suffers. Citizens suffer. The price of goods in the market continues to go up and up and then the countries blame the farmers.

“The infrastructural issues faced by these central farmers also extend to the Ministry of Works and Transport and the failure to maintain some basic infrastructure like the bridges that are necessary to access these agricultural plots.”

Ratiram said he hoped there was some injection into agriculture coming out of the forum and expo and not “just a photo-op with Caricom leaders.”

He said the Government’s actions were proving otherwise as it relates to food.


"UNC: There’s hope for agriculture for the region, not for Trinidad and Tobago"

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