Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ramdial: PNM trying to shut down agriculture

COUVA NORTH MP Ramona Ramdial

COUVA NORTH MP Ramona Ramdial said yesterday the Prime Minister and Ministers of Agriculture are making decisions that are leading our country deep down the rabbit hole following Wednesday's closure of Caroni Green.

In a release, Ramdial stated: “Former CEO, Sharma Lalla defended (Caroni Green's) operational costs saying it was much less than the annual $6 million claimed by the Prime Minister.”

She added, “In fact, the production and exportation of hot peppers made a profit of $700,000 last year. To many this may seem like a small amount but there was a continuous expansion drive where additional lands were going to be cultivated to increase pepper production, thereby increasing profits.”

Ramdial added that, coincidentally, yesterday it was disclosed that Massy Distribution will be increasing prices on some products from May 1 because of rising costs.

Supermarkets have also noted that other companies have also been raising their product prices over the past two years.

This increase will continue to lead to high food inflation with a direct negative effect on the poor, Ramdial said.

She said, “This is why the Government must stimulate the agricultural sector. Instead, they are shutting down viable projects like Caroni Green and not incentivising (sic) the sector. So we will continue to have a high food import bill since this Government is shutting down agriculture.”

She added, “The Ministers of Agriculture, one of whom is a farmer, are quite silent on the recent happenings. Therefore I ask for the plan for agriculture as there seems to be a systematic shut down of the sector — PNM style.”

She said, “I call upon all the agricultural associations and groups to let their voices be heard as they are the most important stakeholders and citizens are depending on them. Again I call upon the government to not discard agriculture but instead to invest the necessary resources to make this sector a revenue-generating one which will ensure our nation's food security.”

Ramdial also added, “The stories of the workers are another issue. Some were former ArcelorMittal workers, single mothers and young budding agricultural entrepreneurs who are now jobless.”