I note the recent announcement in the media that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley will depart for Guyana where he will attend a regional meeting on agriculture. As the Member of Parliament for a constituency that has many farmers, I want to inform the Prime Minister farmers of rural constituencies such as Cumuto/Manzanilla has been suffering and the time to assist them is NOW.
As MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla, I would like to further remind the Prime Minister that if he has an appreciation for the agricultural sector, and understand the historical genesis in the cultivation of citrus and other exotic fruits, one would come to appreciate that farms such as the Marper Farms which is a world class agricultural facility waiting to be harnessed but it requires political will; it requires an attitude of professionalism, of appreciating the value that agriculture can bring to a community and by extension the nation. Under the Peoples Partnership led by Kamla Persad Bissessar the Marper Farms led the way in budding and grafting of our local Cocoa and citrus, which now seems like something of the past. Previously, under the Peoples Partnership administration, an OJT training programme was administered to train young persons in budding and grafting.
• Farm is also food basket of the nation with over 500 plus farmers
• Allocation for pumps in budget, Pumps promised in the budget and this still yet to be seen
• Excavator to be stationed at the Nariva Swamp to assist with desilting and clearing of water courses
• Caltoo Bridge – Main access road to the Nariva Swamp is still in a deplorable condition
As MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla, I would like to indicate that Access Roads repairs are needed in the Constituency of Cumuto/Manzanilla. The Minister of Finance indicated that such a programme is to commence in 2022 and will cover eighty kilometres and provide relief for over four hundred farmers and cost $75 million. These areas include Matelot, Toco, Manzanilla, Sangre Grande, Talparo, Wallerfield, Maracas St. Joseph, Tunapuna, Orange Grove, Brasso Seco, Paria, Blanchisseuse, Lopinot and Paramin. To many times we hear the PNM say they are going to deal with road repairs for agriculture? As MP I visited one of the areas within the Manzanilla district and that road is in serious need of repair and farmers keep complaining. The MP hopes this program comes true and not just Ole talk.
Furthermore, I would also like to further indicate that once we speak of agriculture, we must also extend the conversation to livestock rearing, as well as fishing, as the constituency is bounded on the Eastern seaboard by miles of sea, rich in fish and other seafood, waiting to be commercially and profitably exploited especially as we have many Cascadoo, Tilapia, Conch and major fishing villages as well. As we speak on seafood, I recall this PNM Administration closed down the Seafood Industry Development Company. So, I must ask what plans this Government has for the fisher folk of the constituency of Cumuto/Manzanilla? We must remember it was the PNM Administration, which literally abandoned the sector in its last five years of Governance, and is now suddenly realizing the value and significance of the sector. We must throw our minds back to the closure of Caroni 1975 limited, and all its attendant agricultural projects – citrus, Buffalypso rearing, Caroni Green, all which met their demise under the watch of the PNM.
Finally, the MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla hopes that Prime Minister is able to find a solution to the Praedial Larceny problem that is tormenting the constituency farmers and the nation. The MP laments that he constantly meets with many farmers and heard many horror stories. Stories such as farmers not being able to get a good night’s sleep, instead of having to camp out in their fields during bearing season, to protect their crops. In so doing, they place their lives and those of their families at great risk, adding to the dangers of crime in the defence of their livelihoods and investments. Therefore, The MP continues to advocate that the Praedial Larceny Squad is needed and is calling for a permanent Praedial Larceny unit to be established either at the Sangre Grande Police Station or the Cumuto Police Station.
Dr Rai Ragbir
Member of Parliament for Cumuto/Manzanilla