Senator the Honourable Vasant Bharath, Minister of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs, on March 12, 2012, launched the keenly anticipated NATIONAL FOOD PRODUCTION ACTION PLAN – 2012-2015, at a Ceremony aptly held on the fertile soil of Tucker Valley Farm, Chaguaramas in the presence of some two hundred (200) industry stakeholders.
Bharath unveiled a Plan that was developed in consultation with the national farmers associations and other interest groups. The Plan outlines the strategic goals of the Ministry in creating a food secure nation, with its focus on specific commodities. These include staples (rice, sweet potato, cassava, breadfruit); vegetables (tomatoes, hot peppers, cucumber, pumpkin, melongene, ochro, dasheen bush, onion), fruits (banana, citrus, mangoes, pineapple, pawpaw), aquaculture (tilapia), livestock (sheep and goat, dairy goat, dairy cattle) and pulses (pigeon peas, bodi).
In the words of Edwina Leacock, Permanent Secretary, “It is imperative that we produce more of our own foods and use our fisheries resources in a sustainable manner so that we can secure our future. We must strengthen our agriculture sector. Reliance on external sources for most of our foods as amplified by our high food import bill must be significantly reduced as a matter of urgency. This must become and remain a top priority as we pursue a reliable approach to the development of our agriculture sector to cushion the impact of high food prices on our citizens.”
The Plan provides for a unified direction, aligning resources with national priorities while creating a platform for the national Government and private sector to venture into strategic partnerships to effectively mobilize and utilize available land and marine resources, labour, human resources and technology. Therefore, the Plan clearly outlines the investment opportunities in the sector, providing a platform for young entrepreneurs to actively participate in the development of a sector with the potential to extend into national economic and social development.
The Food Production Minister is noted as saying that “this Plan now holds my Ministry to account by the citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Also addressing the audience were Ms. Joanne Deoraj, Director, National Transformation, Ministry of Planning and Economy and Mr. Enroy Slater, Councilor for Point Cumana/Chaguaramas, Office of the Member of Parliament, Diego Martin West.
Members of the audience included Mr. Barton Clarke, Representative, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO); Dr. Arlington Chesney, Executive Director, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI); Professor Clement Sankar, Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus; representatives from the European Union (EU); Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Division of Agriculture, Tobago House of Assembly (THA); Agriculture Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT); National Foodcrop Farmers Association (NFFA); Cunupia Farmers Association; UWI Agribusiness Society, National 4H Leaders Council, National Schools Dietary Services Limited; State Agencies of NAMDEVCO, ADB, TTABA, EMBD, CCIB, SIDC, LLPB and senior Ministry officials.
Download the National Food Production Action Plan National Food Production Action Plan 2012-2015