The Member of Parliament for Oropouche West, Mrs. Vidia Gayadeen Gopeesingh is questioning the decision of the PNM to replace thousands of fruit trees with houses at the St. Augustine Nurseries, in light of the discovery of the Citrus Greening disease.
In a release issued on Tuesday, the MP stated “During question time in Parliament a few days ago, I asked Minister Rambharat about the government’s plan to contain the disease and he began his response by indicating the disease was discovered in Trinidad in August 2017.”
Mrs. Gopeesingh continued, “I found it very strange that measures were not implemented to curtail this destructive disease; since the St. Augustine Nurseries provides germ plasm (genetic material) for our CARICOM brothers and sisters. Why is the disease now being acknowledged as notifiable if it was discovered previously?”
The MP questioned the lack of involvement by the Plant Quarantine Service which offers early detection, eradication and preventative methods to deal with such situations. She stated “It is very suspicious that in February the government announced the expansion of the East Grove Housing Development; which will directly affect the nurseries, and then in March the preventable, citrus greening disease was discovered. Is this a coincidence?”
Mrs. Gayadeen- Gopeesingh stated “The government needs to reassure the citizenry that it was not a deliberate display of negligence by the Ministry of Agriculture to aid the PNM East Grove, vanity project. If the trees are being destroyed as they should be, why is the government determined to replace them with houses?”
The MP recounted “When the citrus industry in Florida was ravaged by the citrus greening disease, the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences began research and developed varieties of citrus which show resistance to the greening disease. Wouldn’t it be practical to introduce these plants at the nurseries instead of houses?”
The MP concluded “The government needs to come clean and reassure the citizens that there was no sabotage or deliberate negligence at the St. Augustine Nurseries to fulfil PNM agendas.”
Vidia Gayadeen- Gopeesingh
Dated 27th March 2018.