Time to get serious about food security

Minister of Agriculture Kazim Hosein - Sureash Cholai
Minister of Agriculture Kazim Hosein - Sureash Cholai

THE EDITOR: There were rumours of an unprecedented price rise in Irish potatoes on the market and reality checks have proven this to be the case. And as customary, there is now a frantic rush to plant more potatoes or find substitutes in TT.

This leaves one to wonder if there is a ministry of agriculture or even a minister of agriculture in this country? Why do we have to be reactive whenever something happens to our food producers? These are the people we depend on for the provision of foods. These are the people we depend on for our very survival.

This is a repeat of the scenario we were faced with when the war broke out between Russia and Ukraine and the supply of wheat and flour was threatened. It was only then that the authorities awoke to the fact that bread, roti, doubles and pastries, to name a few, would be scratched from our menu. There was a mad rush to find substitutes, such as cassava flour and corn flour.

What were the authorities doing all this time? Why hasn't the Ministry of Agriculture been on the ball this time to ensure that TT becomes self-sufficient in food production? It is time we become more proactive and think outside of the box. It has been said that "a country that can feed itself, rules itself." Conversely, it means we are not ruled by ourselves and are susceptible to the whims and fancies of external forces.

During the covid19 pandemic there was a real threat of limited food imports and occasionally several food items were in short supply. The Government did not take a hint from that and continued to go about business as usual, only to now learn about another steep increase in a basic commodity.

What happens if rice, cooking oil, channa, split peas, lentils, red beans, even meat, milk and milk products become scarce or exports from other countries are stymied by production or shipping? A check in supermarkets reveals that all or almost all of these products come from foreign countries.

I don't think the Government is serious about making any improvements to the welfare of citizens. It's letting the chips fall where they may.

The Ministry of Agriculture needs to open up large-scale farms throughout the country to produce fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains and meat, milk and milk products instead of depending on other countries to do that for us.

The Government also needs to support farmers with access roads, flood mitigation, farming equipment, fertilisers and livestock feeds, water retention ponds and the marketing of agricultural produce.

Unless these areas are addressed, we would be continuing to set ourselves up for a calamity of enormous proportions.




"Time to get serious about food security"

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