Agriculture Minister pledges support to rice farmers, “we must work together to get it right.”
The Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries has committed over Five Million Dollars to Phase One of the revitalization and modernization of the rice industry project in Trinidad and Tobago. This revelation was made by Senator the Honourable Kazim Hosein during a meeting convened with a group of rice farmers at Farmers Choice Vegetable Mart located on the Old Southern Main Road in Caroni.
The meeting, which was held on last week (Wednesday, 15th February), opened dialogue between technical teams from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF) and key industry stakeholders. During the discussion, Minister Hosein informed that the funds would be used for the first phase of the project, and funding would increase as the project develops in the medium and long term. “The government is committed to reducing the food import bill. We recognize that rice is one of the most important staple foods in Trinidad and Tobago, constituting a regular part of the daily diet of most citizens. Today’s discussion isn’t about me; we must work together to get it right. We are working towards the same goal, boosting local rice production.”
Senator Hosein indicated that the initial phase would lay the foundation of the project rollout, “This phase will entail rehabilitating and repairing rice field access roads, irrigation and drainage channels and other supportive infrastructure works. It will also include land clearing and drainage/irrigation upgrades. It’s a mammoth project that may span years, but we are committed to starting and completing it.” He further described the project as strategic saying, “revitalizing and modernizing the local rice industry will increase regional food security and reduce the nearly 100 per cent dependence on imports for this crucial staple food. ”
After listening to the concerns of the farmers, the Minister pledged to meet with key stakeholder agencies, including the Ministry of Trade, National Flour Mills and the Agricultural Development Bank officials, to discuss the issues facing them and by extension the sector.
Since 2008 local rice production has been accounting for less than 5% of local demand, with the shortfall in supply (more than 95%) met by imports. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, rice imports were valued at TT$126,514,257 Million, TT$136,445,295 Million and TT$146,408,204 Million, respectively (CSO, Trinidad and Tobago).
Please visit agriculutre.gov.tt for more updates on this project.