Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram said T&T continues to suffer from the Rowley-led Government’s shameful neglect of agriculture.
He made the comment in light of a Newsday newspaper article on Wednesday, entitled, “NFM to increase animal feed prices by up to 14%”.
Ratiram said “The article on the subject of the rising cost of agro-based factor inputs, is the latest in what is now a running conversation in the media for which I have raised with the national community on no less than three previous occasions via media releases.
“Meanwhile, Ministers (Clarence) Rambharat and (Paula) Gopee-Scoon have been living in Neverland, since both are yet to present any solutions at all, choosing to be by-standers instead of key players in this championship level event.”
Ratiram noted that “The news of rising feed prices and its corresponding impact on food prices is an additional hardship that the average consumer simply cannot digest. Even our local food producers seeking foreign export markets will be harder hit by each and every increase in the cost of inputs, such as feed, which cause a chain reaction up the food production/processing line. This comes ahead of this Friday’s debate on the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement Bill, a significant part of which involves agriculture-based commodities.”
He said “This Rowley-led PNM Government has proven time and time again that they just do not care about our farmers and any talk about agriculture is, as the saying goes, just ‘pure mamaguay’. The flooding that destroyed 200 acres of crops in Penal just a few days ago could have been avoided, but for the lack of simple floodgate maintenance and a basic necessity such as a water pump, hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages occurred.”
“The stench of hypocrisy reeks on this Rowley-led PNM Government who promised to put agriculture first, yet have now presided over several increases in feed prices both at the wholesale and retail levels. The resultant effect is reduced profit margins, thereby discouraging persons from getting into agriculture. So while the Government says that they are focused on agriculture being a main economic driver outside of oil and gas, their actions have proven quite the opposite,” he said.
Ratiram said that “In reading his 2021 budget in Parliament, the Minister of Finance announced, even boasted, that a $500 million stimulus package was available for providing agricultural support to farmers. It is now going on six months that this $500 million has been sitting in the Ministry of Finance and not a red cent has been put to use for the betterment of the agriculture sector.
“I stand with those farmers in Penal who issued a call in the national media (Trinidad Guardian of March 06, 2021) in the interest of T&T’s agriculture sector for Minister Clarence Rambharat to get out of his office and get to work, or else the Minister should do the honourable thing and just get out of office.”