Trinidad y Tobago quiere aumentar la producción agrícola para no depender de las importaciones
T&T’s annual $4 billion food import bill shows that this country must start growing more of its own food, says Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath. “It is important that we in T&T look at substituting our imported produce. Many of you will know that our food import bill runs at about $4 billion a year. “One of the items that we have recently been experimenting with is onions in T&T, which we harvested our first crop of last week. We tried about 40 years ago, but failed. Over the last four-and-a-half years, we have been importing $100 million of it. This shows that we can do all sorts of things where food security is concerned,” he said.
Bharath was at yesterday’s opening ceremony of a workshop hosted by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) in collaboration with the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation, and the Paris21 Secretariat at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Port-of-Spain. Bharath said that later this week, his ministry will be releasing its strategic plan for agriculture for 2012-2015. “Whether it is someone who wants to invest in this sector or a farmer, they can pick up this document (strategic plan) and see where the opportunities will be,” he said. Bharath said statistics and data collection have not been very efficient in his ministry. “In my ministry, we had a situation for over the past decade or so where the information gathered by separate divisions have not been integrated with other divisions and, as a result, we have operated in almost silos where you have a tremendous amount of information that has been gathered but not utilised significantly.
Sometimes information has been gathered in duplicates or triplicates and the information stays where it is gathered,” he said. Bharath said many countries are now thinking of their own food security instead of exporting food. “Many countries across the world are looking to maintain their food stocks and they are not exporting to countries like T&T in the quantities they used to. They are holding food stocks for themselves. Many countries are looking at vast tracts of lands, as in Africa, where they can maintain their own food security. There they are leasing or purchasing land and then the food is shipped back to their own countries,” he said.