Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West, Dinesh Rambally MP (2nd from left), assists in the distribution of plant seedlings on Sunday 6 February 2022, at Monroe Road, Cunupia. (Image courtesy Office of the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West)

Some 12,500 seedlings were distributed to people in the Chaguanas West Constituency on Sunday 6 February 2022, as part of an initiative by the Sure Foundation, in partnership with the Office of the Member of Parliament.

The distribution took place on Munroe Road, Cunupia, in the vicinity of the Hindu temple.

Motorists and passers-by were invited to take home packets of seedlings, free of charge.

Economist at the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine Campus, Dr Roger Hosein, who is a past executive member of the Sure Foundation, was present at the effort, holding aloft a sign advertising the give-away on the side of the busy road.

Economist Dr Roger Hosein holds aloft a sign inviting people to take free packets of seedlings, on behalf of the Sure Foundation and the Chaguanas West Constituency. (Image courtesy Office of the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West)

“To date, the Sure Foundation has distributed more than 1.5 million seedlings which will go a long way towards decreasing the nation’s food important bill of $700 million each year,” said Dr Hosein, noting that the response to the Sure Foundation Programme has been overwhelming.

He also noted in addition to boosting national food production and reducing the importation of food, another benefit is reducing the emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

He said the Sure Foundation and the Chaguanas West constituency hope to rebuild a subculture of agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will increase food production, create employment and diversify the economy from the bottom up as part of a localised economic development strategy,” said Dr Hosein.

“What we find are that people are particularly interested in seasonings, so we are working to bring out a lot of chives, bandania (chadon beni), and celery. It immediately cuts the cost of their food basket,” he added.

President of the Sure Foundation, Dr Rebecca Gokool (right), assists with the packaging of seedlings for distribution. (Image courtesy Office of the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West)

The food security activist said that the seedlings are sourced by purchasing from suppliers, while the Sure Foundation has planted some seedlings themselves for distribution, since May 2020.

Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally, who took time off from his religious obligations at the nearby temple, also joined in the distribution exercise on Sunday.

He said that food security was indeed a great concern among the less privileged in society and he was happy to engage in any activity that would help to reduce the hardship people are facing in these challenging times.