Minister de Freitas: More tolerant crop varieties needed to achieve food security

The Government has recognized that in order to achieve food and nutrition security, it must continue to focus on improvements to crop quality, especially those varieties tolerant to pests, diseases and climatic changes. So said the Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Nigel De Freitas, as he delivered the feature address on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Kazim Hosein at the World Food Day Exhibition hosted by the World Food Day National Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (WFDNCTT) on Saturday 15th October, 2022 at the MALF Head Office in Chaguanas.

“Our strategy is to diversify the agricultural sector and enhance our food security systems. In this regard, key commodities have been targeted for development, including: strategic crops for food sovereignty and food security; vegetable crops for higher self-sufficiency; and crops required for agro-processing and the production of value-added products”, he added.

Minister de Freitas further stated that blockchain technology would soon be introduced by the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO). He said artificial intelligence along with geographical information systems (GIS) technologies will be used in establishing a traceability system on the entire food value chain. This initiative will also facilitate the forecasting of production data, with stakeholders being able to access information in real time.

Also speaking at the event were the: Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Ms. Coomarie Goolabsingh; Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative to Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, Mr. Rueben Robertson and Chairman of the WFDNCTT and Director (Ag.), Extension Training and Information Services Division, Ms. Deanne Ramroop.

Today’s event which was held in commemoration of World Food Day (observed on October 16 annually) was themed, “Leave No One Behind: Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”. The programme included a “live” plant clinic (diagnosis of insect pest and diseases); demonstrations on composting; alternatives to livestock feed; a seed, seedling and sapling distribution; information on natural pesticides and advice on emerging vertical farming technologies. Also participating was the Ministry of Trade and Industry which shared information from its Consumer Affairs Division and TTbizlink Unit.

The WFDNCTT is a Cabinet appointed committee under the purview of Agriculture Ministry with a mandate to create public awareness and guidance on the complex issue of ensuring food security for all. It draws attention to the management and protection of national food systems, the country’s nutritional status, and the right to food and food access for vulnerable and food insecure groups of the national community, based on the WFD theme identified each year.

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