A noted agricultural economist has observed that TT may be losing the ability to feed itself while declining foreign exchange earnings have reportedly put the country’s ability to import food in a precarious position – while simultaneously hiking the food import bill.
In a media release last week, Omardath Maharaj said while politicians have “seemingly attempted to promote local food production,” they had simultaneously given greater facilitation to other sectors which also demand billions of dollars in imported food and beverages to survive.
“After several years of fiscal budget deficits and economic hardship, damage to the major food-producing areas from flooding, dilapidated infrastructure, tenancy and other issues, it is a burden to maintain our dependency on food imports coupled with food price inflation and the urgent need to return value and opportunities to rural agricultural and fishing communities,” Maharaj said.
He said the food-production sector continued to suffer from a history of underinvestment and failed policy, while no leader seemed to regard agriculture and fisheries as TT’s new oil and gas.
“With all that is happening in our country from politics to poverty, from indecision on sugar consumption in schools and local-food content in school meals to heinous crimes and murder perpetrated on our nation’s children, our actions in the festive season and for a new year is a golden opportunity to not only focus on all that in good in T&T but our collective future as well,” Maharaj said.
He noted that despite this country’s pineapple being featured on the US television show Sesame Street, the nation seemed to be “missing the mark” on food security.
“We need to focus on sustaining people and their livelihoods.
“I started the year by suggesting to the national community that we should be real about the national development agenda in 2017, but by year’s end, it is perceived that we are missing the mark. Let us all work together to create the future we need,” he said.