Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 20th 2016 Contents One of the most action-ori-
ented decisions taken so
far in relation to tackling
the issue of the multi-billion
dollar food import bill has been
the establishment of a commit-
tee to monitor food imports.
The committee, appointed by
the Ministry of Agriculture
Lands and Fisheries, will have
the responsibility to monitor
food products being brought into
the country. The monitoring is
designed to find out what is
being imported and what among
those products can be replaced
by locally produced food items.
The overall objective of the
exercise is to reduce what is said
to be the $5 billion food import
bill and to do so through the
creation of space in the market
for local farmers and producers.
The committee is also man-
dated to inspect products which
are imported, branded and word-
ed not in accordance with what
has been allowed by the law.
One example given by the Par-
liamentary Secretary in the Min-
istry, Avinash Singh, has to do
with the imports of pork for
processing but yet such meat is
placed on the market as fresh
So too, Mr Singh says, the
government is going to take leg-
islation to the Parliament in
regard to the poultry industry.
In relation to the law, Mr
Singh says there could be dump-
ing of chicken products here
which are beyond 180 days old;
such meats cannot be sold in
countries with strict laws but are
being imported into T&T con-
trary to the highest stands of
health and safety standards.
He said the same is true of
certain fish products which could
have been harvested and been on
the shelf for months: "As a con-
sumer do you really know when
that fish was harvested? Could
you really say whether it is
tilapia that you are buying?" Mr
Singh suggestively asked.
What is quite encouraging
about the establishment of the
committee is that it seeks to
make a meaningful start to the
historical ambition to diversify
the economy away from its
dependence on the energy
Diversification, as articulated
by economists and economic
planners, is an historical macro-
economic objective not only of
T&T but all of the Caribbean in
the post-colonial era.
It has proven to be a massive
almost unattainable task. Perhaps
it has been seen and attempted
in its largest possible framing.
What this project amounts to
is doing things which incremen-
tally can lead to the overall
What is being attempted by
the committee is first baby step
towards the larger and very chal-
lenging objective of diversifica-
tion. Finding out in a systemised
way the nature of our food
imports and what can be
replaced by local and regional
farmers and producers creates a
road map to the future.
And it does so in an intelligent
and systematic manner that can
guide production planning and
the marketing of produce. Indeed
it is about building a market
based on intelligence drawn from
the market itself.
But of course it is well known
that simply establishing a com-
mittee with the intention of
achieving an objective is never
sufficient. First of all the com-
mittee must be fitted-out with
the resources and capacity to get
the job done.
Instances of government estab-
lishing committees and then
leaving them to whither on the
vine are well known. It may
even be that the committees
report and the reports are then
So yes, the establishment of
the committee to inform the
thrust towards opening up
opportunities for local farmers
and producers of food items is
an encouraging and progressive
move to the larger objective of
diversification; however focused
and deliberate action is the chal-
Reducing the cost of our food bill
Diversification, as articulated by economists and economic planners, is an historical macro-
economic objective not only of T&T but all of the Caribbean in the post-colonial era.
It has proven to be a massive almost unattainable task. Perhaps it has been seen and attempted
in its largest possible framing. What this project amounts to is doing things which incrementally
can lead to the overall objective.
Despite the poor showing of our
senior team on the field of play, and
the persistent impasse off the field,
cricket continues to animate the
Caribbean in a way other sports have
not been able to do.
The reason is clear---no other sport
is so tied to the region's culture and
its deeper struggle for dignity.
That is why our spirits have been
lifted by the recent triumph of our
Under-19 team. It is one of those rare
moments when the rest of the world
is forced to look at our region with
the respect we deserve.
We join with the rest of the
Caribbean in saluting our heroes.
Our team came home to a rousing
welcome in Barbados, and we hope
that when the players return to their
individual countries, they are
properly acknowledged. We have had
a tendency in the region to honour
our victorious teams with material
things, such as land and houses.
We advise against that route; we
feel that the best gift to our young
men is to invest in an improved
cricket infrastructure that would aid
these young men to further improve
their skills and to train the next
batch of Under-19 champions.
Our Under-19 team has done us
proud. We hope this victory is not
allowed to be a flash in the pan; that
our young men are not allowed to fall
prey to the lure of cricket's "bling."
Our young cricketers would benefit
from playing before 5,000
spectators in the stands, rather than
We urge the public to return to the
cricket grounds to watch games
other that the popular T20s.
Sound Off: Saveour Under-19 heroes from cricket's 'bling'
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