Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 25th 2015 Contents SHASTRI BOODAN
The production of local fruits and vegetables
has doubled, giving impetus to the campaign to
have schoolchildren eat more local foods, the Min-
ister of Food Production has said.
Speaking at the launch of the Cassava Muffin
Project at the Tunapuna Boys RC School on Friday,
Senator Devant Maharaj, Minister of Food Produc-
tion, said production for some commodities had
been on the upswing. He was delivering the feature
address for the project which is a collaboration
between his ministry, Namdevco and the National
Schools Dietary Services Ltd.
Maharaj said between 2010 and 2014, production
of cassava went up from 82,800 pounds to 207,000
pounds; that of cabbage went up from 296,700
pounds to 593,400 pounds; and dasheen went up
from 28,463 pounds to 51,750 pounds. The pro-
duction of tomatoes and pumpkin also doubled.
"Farmers were able to either double or triple the
local food output over the last four years for 21
commodities identified by the school nutrition pro-
gramme as part of its eat local campaign. I am told
that for the first time the National Schools Dietary
Services Ltd has been able to use local produce
every single day of its 20-day menu cycle.
"This has resulted in a 70 per cent increase in
local food content in the menus of the school-
feeding programme, up from 30 per cent in 2010."
Maharaj said cassava was important for both
food security and nutrition as it contained high
levels of carbohydrates and was adaptable to poor
soils and water stress, making it less susceptible
to climate change, as well as being compatible with
a wide variety of crops in rotational farming.
He said it was the aim of his administration to
reduce imported staples by between 29 and 100
Dr Andy Ali, chairman of the National Schools
Dietary Programme, said his organisation was aiming
to get as much local produce into the 154,000 meals
it served daily to 120,000 children.
Ali said some of the challenges included the
abuse of pesticides, availability and safety. He said
153,000 pounds of cassava were required every
school term for soups, salads, and its new cassava
muffin to be served for breakfast.
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Food Production Minister, Senator Devant Maharaj, left, joins members of the scouts attached to the
Tunapuna RC School, on Friday, to try out a tasty cassava muffin. PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
Former Caribbean Court of Justice
(CCJ) judge Prof Duke Pollard is con-
testing the validity of the May 11 elec-
tion announcement by Guyana Pres-
ident Donald Ramotar.
In a letter to the Guyana press, Prof
Pollard, who currently lectures at the
University of Guyana, said "a definitive
determination of the election date with-
in the meaning of Article 61 of the
Guyana constitution is yet to be made."
Prof Pollard argued that lawful
appointment of an election date must
follow announcement of the dissolution
President Ramotar last Monday
announced the holding of elections,
but remained mum on the dissolution
of the 65-member National Assem-
The Guyana Human Rights Associ-
ation (GHRA) immediately pointed out
the omission and said it could lead to
abuses by the Ramotar administration.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat
Dr Roger Luncheon is quoted on the
Guyana NewsNow Web site as saying
"the 10th Parliament is history."
Attorney General and Minister of
Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, however,
said there was no requirement for the
dissolution to accompany announce-
ment of an election date.
"There is absolutely no obligation
on the President to dissolve Parliament
at the same time when a date for
National Elections is announced,"
Nandlall was quoted as saying.
But Prof Pollard is asserting that "no
constitutionally valid election date has
been determined up to the time of
A poll conducted by the North
American Caribbean Teachers Asso-
ciation (Nacta) has shown that Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar still
enjoys an approval rating of 51 per
cent among party members and sup-
porters, five years after being elected
UNC political leader.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley s
rating trailed closely behind with 49
The poll revealed that the PM s pop-
ularity was based on her charisma and
compassion for the less fortunate,
while Rowley s ceaseless efforts to hold
the Government accountable on var-
ious missteps have earned him some
The poll, conducted last week by
Dr Vishnu Bisram, is based on findings
obtained from interviews with 470
Whereas the survey revealed that
Persad-Bissessar remains the most
popular political figure in the UNC,
as well as the governing coalition party,
supporters insist they are turned off
by several of the PP s incumbents and
However, those who supported the
PP Government in the 2010 general
election indicated that they remained
committed to the PM s re-election,
saying neither the PNM nor the ILP
were viable alternatives.
However, supporters were cautiously
optimistic about the PM s re-election
chances, as the poll showed she faced
a tough battle in the marginal con-
stituencies of St Joseph, Barataria and
Earlier polls showed the PP Gov-
ernment trailing the PNM in the
Toco/Sangre Grande, Arima, D Abadie-
O Meara, Lopinot/Bon Air West, Tuna-
puna, and San Fernando West seats.
Voters felt that ministers Vasant
Bharath, Fazal Karim, Dr Tim
Gopeesingh, Dr Roodal Moonilal, Gary
Griffith, Dr Suruj Rambachan and
Winston Dookeran were performing
on the job, while Larry Howai and
Emmanuel George received poor per-
Former CCJ judge claims
Guyana election date invalid
Production of local fruits, vegetables increased---Maharaj
PM leads in Nacta poll
...popular for charisma, compassion for less fortunate
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