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Road Map to Recovery

The problems facing farmers in T&T have not changed over the past 50 years.

This according to former Minister of Trade and Industry, Vasant Bharath, who recently sat on the Prime Minister’s Roadmap to Recovery team.

Speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew on Monday, Bharath said the issues of water shortages, floodings and poor infrastructure remain the same for farmers.

But he said the introduction of a $500 million loan to boost the agriculture sector could be used to kickstart the industry and finally bring diversification to the economy.

“Farmers generally over the last 50 years have been really producing what are called cash crops, they go from crop to crop, so they aren’t able to go to the bank and get a loan to fund their businesses or to expand it,” Bharath said. “We can actually grow five or six or possibly ten times as much as we do today if we were utilising science and technology to its full potential and we are not, so, therefore, it makes it very difficult for us to compete with imported products where our competitors are actually using science and technology.”

He said T&T faced a serious issue with food security in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when countries around the world began limiting exports to ensure their own food security.

Bharath repeated his call for an implementation committee to be assigned to the Office of the Prime Minister to ensure the recommendations of the Roadmap to Recovery committee are implemented.