The Member of Parliament for Oropouche West, Mrs. Vidia Gayadeen-Gopeesingh, is condemning the Rowley led administration for its gross negligence and ineptitude in managing the agricultural sector, more particularly the rice industry.
In a release issued on Tuesday, the MP stated, “This PNM administration continues to dismantle the agricultural sector of Trinidad and Tobago. The Sugar Cane and Cocoa industries were crippled and it is evident that the Rice Industry is their next target.”
Mrs. Gayadeen-Gopeesingh was commenting on the revelations made at the Inquiry into National Flour Mills Agreement for Purchasing Rice Paddy on Monday. It was discovered that the NFM Rice Mill at Carlsen Field is only operating at fifteen per cent capacity (15%). This was due to local rice paddy production declining from 2,800 metric tonnes in 2013 to 600 metric tonnes in 2018 which represents a 75% decrease.
The MP accused the negligent Rowley led administration of ignoring the cries for assistance from the local rice farmers who have complained ad nauseam about the inefficiencies in the industry and non-payment for produce. “It is alarming to know that this PNM government purchased paddy from the local farmers and to date, have refused to pay. This neglect has forced many rice farmers out of the industry which is clearly represented by the low yields at NFM.”
The MP continued, “Last year the government gave a friend of the PNM over 300,000 dollars to do research on Moruga Hill Rice, but could not find the money to pay the local farmers to keep the industry alive. One has to question whether this administration is cognisant of the fact that the shelves of our supermarkets are flooded with rice imported from Guyana, Pakistan, Thailand and India.
MP Gayadeen-Gopeesingh concluded “The underestimation and neglect of local farmers has led to foreign producers flooding the local market which consequently facilitates our high food import bill. The Trinidad and Tobago rice industry produced over 20,000 metric tonnes of rice paddy in the 1990’s and with the right stewardship can once again be a formidable force within the Caribbean. Under the current Minister of Agriculture, Clarence Rambharat, who cannot answer a simple question in Parliament more so to resolve farming issues, our rice industry will remain in decline.”
Vidia Gayadeen- Gopeesingh
Dated: 15th January 2019