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Agri group wants help from Govt

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

THE Starvation Fighters Agricultural Group, formed during the Black Power Movement of the 1970s, is calling on the Government to pay attention to the needs of the group.

The group was given a 50-acre area of land more than 30 years ago for the establishment of an agricultural complex, said Thomas Mason, founder of the group.

Mason, 66, said the main purpose of the group was "to discourage delinquency and lawlessness, to assist in food production to reduce the unemployment rate, to assist in a better distribution of the nation's economy and to awaken the dormant skills and talent of many of our young people in this nation".

He said the then-government promised to clear the lands located in forested areas and to establish a proper cropping programme.

Mason, who lives at Thompson Gardens, Tarodale, said, "They never honoured their promise and that have created setbacks for us and we are unable to make our objectives."

He said before the 2010 May general election, the group had assurance from the People's National Movement (PNM) administration that , " they would clean the land, put in infrastructure like roads and to see what other types of development there could be."

Mason said the lease for the land is up and the group was not able to subdivide the land amongst members.

He said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar should intervene.

Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj said he met with the group about three months ago and was awaiting feedback from them. He confirmed that the lease for the land will be up shortly.

He said he told the members to speak to the Commissioner of State Lands and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Moruga Clifton De Coteau, because the issue was a legal one.

"I cannot just pick up State land and grab it and give it to anybody. It has to go through a process."

Maharaj blamed the land's neglect on the group.

He said, "The neglect of the land really falls on the organisation. They have done nothing with it. If they are given leases for these lands what will they do with it?"

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