The Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries is a very worried man these days. He is the Government liaison for Agriculture with the Prime Minister’s Post Pandemic Economic team, which is expected to provide ideas and initiatives for the agricultural sector in the Post Pandemic Road Map.
How is he expected to deliver in a few days what he hasn’t done in nearly five years is anyone’s guess and his personal nightmare!
The last Economic Advisory Board appointed by the Prime Minister didn’t fare very well, resulting in the resignation of Dr. Terrence Farrell in utter disgust and frustration. Is that report on agriculture recovery also languishing and gathering dust on a shelf in the Ministry?
This new Team will quickly realise that ideas to grow the local agricultural sector in the immediate short term, and medium-long term will not come easily. As agriculture stakeholders, other than those in the select Chambers of Commerce, have hardly had their voices entertained, far less heard by this Minister in the last five years. He chose to ridicule, accuse and attack rather than engage in productive discussions and collaborations.
The Team will also see that those laws and policies that already exist are never implemented. How would one explain the toothless Praedial Larceny unit? Or the defunct Caroni Green project? Or the aquaculture and fish processing projects? Or the 20-30 year wait for renewal of Land leases?
Perhaps the Minister is looking for private sector investment and international technical cooperation, as he wants the friends and financiers to bail him out as he gives them, yet again, free rein of state lands on the pretext of agriculture. Financial support for agricultural programs from international organisations has a strange way of disappearing once it comes to Trinidad and Tobago, just ask the Sugar Cane Farmers Association about the EU funds.
But the Minister shouldn’t worry too much. Prime Minister Rowley’s Ghanian white yam will soon be here to solve all our agricultural problems!
MP for Oropouche West Mrs. Vidia Gayadeen Gopeesingh is of the opinion that the time for consultation is long gone. Now is the time for action that provides immediate relief to a starving public and economic hope for survival for all farmers and agricultural stakeholders.