OFFICIALS of the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) are calling all those who signed up with the programme and are interested in farming to register in four areas throughout Trinidad.
In an advertisement placed in the Sunday Express, URP is seeking interested people in the Diego Martin, Port of Spain, Couva and Chaguanas areas to register today for the agricultural initiative, which is in collaboration with the Ministry of Food Production.
Eight other areas have also been advertised and registration will take place throughout the rest of this week.
URP farmers are also being sought in Princes Town, San Fernando, Point Fortin, Penal, Mt Hope, Tunapuna, Arima and Sangre Grande.
In a telephone interview with the Express on Sunday, Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj said the initiative was nothing new as URP has partnered with the ministry in the past. He added, though, that there were some hiccups with that partnership.
"Farming is not like building a box drain or sweeping a road and so on ... you have to be tending to the animals and plants. It is a long job. ... It is something to which you have to pay a considerable amount of attention and the four-hour window was just not cutting it with the farmers," said the minister when asked what were some of the issues arising out of the last cycle.
"I am of the view that the URP has to be restructured towards agriculture and I have sent a proposal to the Prime Minister three months ago and awaiting feedback," Maharaj said, adding that the last cycle did not yield the results wanted.
He said this is a career path into agriculture and it is geared towards those interested in the sector.
"It was not the work that they were accustomed doing and the level of the work was not pleasing to the farmer," Maharaj said.
URP programme manager Thomas George said the collaboration with farmers and URP would see 1,000 trained people enter the agriculture sector and they are trying to get as many trained.
He said the ad was aimed at the people who are inclined to agriculture.
"That doesn't mean that there isn't a group of people who want it, that's why we put out the ad. After the training the workers would be placed on farms where they will be paid a total of $150 daily, with the URP paying the stipulated $69 and the farmers paying the rest," George said, adding that the $150 would not be for a four-hour work day.