Avinash Singh: Feed and grain suppliers should lower prices

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Avinash Singh. –

Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Avinash Singh, is calling on feed manufacturers and feed grain suppliers to lower their prices now that some of the factors affecting the cost of importation have been reduced.

He made the statement in the Senate on Tuesday in response to a question from Opposition Senator Wade Mark, who asked what measures government was putting in place to relieve farmers and consumers given that animal feed prices had been increased three times in recent months.

Singh outlined that the ministry’s animal, production and health (APH) division continues to provide dedicated support to livestock farmers.

“Forage is made available to farmers without cost. Information is disseminated to farmers on alternative feed sources to meet the nutritional requirement of animals, including information on silage and feed making, using a greater percentage of local forage.

Livestock farmers are also informed of locally available alternative feed sources, such as coconut meal, spent grain, brewer’s grain, molasses blocks, urea blocks, use of fish and poultry meal, and fish silage, as well as high nutritive value forage that can be planted and used as an alternative to imported grains and feed.

“the agriculture ministry continues to subsidise the price of seed material, one of those mainly being our local corn varieties, which many farmers are appreciative to buy at a very highly subsidised price, and plant to ensure their forage and nutritional feed stock is maintained.”

Mark asked why, if freight costs and charges had begun to decline, there had not been a corresponding decrease in the cost of feed stock input.

Singh replied, “The feed grain importers and producers, now that the shipping freights and all of these other inputs seem to be coming down, the grain price is still at its highest, so that we can only, and I join with Senator Mark in calling on the feed manufacturers and the grain suppliers to allow for good sense to prevail and price their goods accordingly.”

He said the government cannot tell feed suppliers or millers what price to sell their products at, but urged local farmers to shop around.

“You can control what price you pay in terms of where you shop and I implore you, apart from shopping for alternative feed supplies, the manufactured feed, utilise the natural feed we have in the form of forage, your corn stalks, your para grass, your bull grass.”

Singh said the government has also put incentives in place to assist farmers who wanted to make their own feed.

“I was happy to see that a lot of the livestock farmers are benefitting from the $100,000 grant fund facility that government has in place for people like the ones referred to by Senator Mark, who want to put down their own feed manufacturing facilities, who want to bring in their own machinery and equipment to make pellets from grass, and all of the supplemental infrastructure to assist in their cost of production.”