Caroni (1975) Limited will have 5,800 acres of land in food production by year’s end, Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj announced on Wednesday. He was speaking at the launch of the first phase of the Caroni Green Initiative at Orange Valley, Couva, which involves cultivation of 560 acres of land with short term crops for the local market. Maharaj said the plan involves a shared business model on the two acre plots given to former workers of Caroni (1975) Limited. Almost 7,000 plots were leased but less than two per cent are currently under cultivation.
He said previously recipients of Caroni lands could not sublet their lots to other farmer. However, Cabinet decided to allow farmers to lease their lands to Caroni in exchange for guaranteed payment. Private farmers will provide expertise and labour and Caroni will secure financing from the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), select farmers and hand out cultivation contracts on a crop by crop basis.
Profits will be shared between Caroni and the contractor, while the land owners will be paid an annual rental fee. Maharaj said when production peaks it should increase the nation’s supply of locally grown food by approximately 12 per cent. He said the plan allows for constant cultivation of produce with no breaks in supply. The produce will be sold on the farm and buyers will be invited to harvest their own produce.
Deosaran Jagroo, CEO of Caroni, said crops will be sold for as little as ten per cent above the cost of production. He said he was happy to see lands once used for sugar again back in food cultivation. The first phase of the project involves short term crops such as dasheen, cucumber, melongene, tomatoes, eddoes, sweet potatoes.