Despite his request to remain as Minister of Food Production, Land and Marine Resources, Vasant Bharath is the new Minister of Trade, Industry and Investments.
Speaking to the Sunday Express yesterday by phone, Bharath said he was sad to be leaving his former ministry, particularly for the loss of his staff, but he has accepted Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's decision.
"I did express that I would have liked the opportunity to stay on to complete a lot of the projects we have started but ultimately she has to use her discretion where people will best serve the government and the country," he said.
Farmers have also expressed their "shock and disappointment" because of the relationship they had developed with Bharath.
Dhano Sookoo, president of the Agricultural Society, said yesterday there was no consultation between farmers and Persad-Bissessar as to how farmers viewed his performance.
"The sector has reached a stage now where we just have to put the plans into action... Farmers are very disappointed, but the Prime Minister has spoken, she has put in place a new minister. The Society has a mandate to work with the minister to ensure we continue to increase our local food production," she said.
She added that the Society hopes the new Food Production Minister, former Transport Minister Devant Maharaj, will catch on quickly. She said the Society also had a good relationship with junior Minister Jairam Seemungal.
"I hope very early Minister Maharaj can meet with the Agricultural Society and we can discuss how we are going to journey on the way forward," she said.
Bharath responded yesterday, saying: "The issue is that we have developed quite a strong team across the board with all the stakeholders. I wish the new minister the best of luck and I'm there to assist in any way I can because food security is very important. I spoke briefly with (Maharaj) after the announcement to make sure activities will carry on. The staff remains the same, the vision remains the same and the government's vision for the ministry continues, regardless who is minister."