Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 12th 2017 Contents news For breaking news, call 225-4465 Exts 2032, 2033 or email us at email@example.com
Sunday, March 12, 2017 guardian.co.tt
200 tonnes of rice left
to rot at NFM mill
Some 200 tonnes of rice val-
ued at approximately $400,000
is currently being left to rot at the
National Flour Mills’ non-func-
tional rice milling complex at
The rice, which was purchased
from local farmers by the State at
a cost of approximately $2,000
a tonne, is to be processed at the
However, the mill has not been
functional since November. NFM
currently has the mill up for sale.
This has not stopped more rice
being added to the pile though, with
additional tonnes of rice purchased
from local farmers being dumped
on the growing heap as recently as
When the Sunday Guardian
visited the area yesterday, several
pigeons and other birds were seen
walking and resting on the mound
of rice stored underneath some gal-
vanise at the compound of the mill.
A rice farmer speaking to the
Sunday Guardian under the con-
dition of anonymity said officials
from the Ministry of Agriculture,
Lands and Fisheries recently held
a meeting with stakeholders in the
rice industry where the issue of the
rotting rice was raised.
Attempts to contact both Minister
of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries
Clarence Rambharat and Parlia-
mentary Secretary at the Ministry
Avinash Singh for an update were
Previously, both NFM and the
Agriculture Ministry partnered to
purchase the rice from local farmers.
But NFM eventually pulled out of
this arrangement and the Agricul-
ture Ministry took the initiative to
pay the farmers the total cost of their
produce using taxpayers’ dollars.
In addition to this, the Agriculture
Ministry also paid NFM a mana-
gerial service fee of approximately
$500,000 a month for them to dry
and process the rice.
But then the mill broke down in
“From then to now, the rice the
farmers have sold is being stored at
National Flour Mills and being left to
spoil because when the rice comes
from the field there is a process you
go through to store the rice; you have
to dry the rice to a certain percent-
age and the drier broke down so they
could not dry the rice, they were just
storing the rice in a big heap and that
is causing the rice to spoil and is of
no use. You cannot do anything with
that rice,” the farmer said.
“Because they have a mandate to
buy the farmers’ rice, they are buy-
ing the rice and we are getting paid
but at the end of the day, the rice is
just there spoiling.”
The farmers said even though they
were getting paid for the produce,
as citizens of this country they were
hurt to see the staple being left to
“On one hand I am being paid for
my rice but on the other hand, as
a citizen, I am just seeing this rice
being placed there and being left to
spoil. That is disheartening knowing
all that can be done with it and on
top of that, taxpayers’ dollars are
being used for that,” one farmer said.
Sale of the mill also
a concern for farmers
One farmer said he was concerned
about the direction in which the rice
industry was heading.
“What they are doing is buying
good produce from farmers and
NFM is 51 per cent govern-
ment-owned with the remaining
49 per cent owned by institutions
and members of the public.
Last month, a newspaper adver-
tisement stated NFM was disposing
of all of the mill’s assets on an “as
is where is basis”. No assets will be
sold separately, it noted.
ry Services Limited (PwC) has been
appointed to assist in the divestment
process. The sale of the mill was also
a cause of concern for the farmers.
“One of my concerns as a farmer
is that if this mill is sold to a foreign
company and the agreement that
the farmers have with the current
Government to purchase the farm-
ers’ rice, what will happen to that
agreement?” one farmer asked.
“There is one local farmer who is
currently running a small mill and
he has bid to purchase the NFM mill
and we are hopeful he would be suc-
cessful. The advantage with him is
that he could start buying farmers’
rice immediately and start process-
ing while the procedure for the sale
of the NFM mill is going through,”
A platform supervisor at the
mill yesterday directed the Sunday
Guardian to NFM’s communications
department in Port-of-Spain.
Trade and Industry Minister Paula
Gopee-Scoon said last night she was
unaware of the situation but will
look into the matter urgently.
Search still on for
The search for missing WPC Naya-
sha Joseph continued in Sea Lots and
Beetham Gardens yesterday.
Joseph, 22, did not show up for duty
on Friday. She was attached to the Mor-
vant Police Station and joined the T&T
Police Service in November 2016.
She is the mother of a four year old
and lived with her boyfriend at Pioneer
Drive, Sea Lots.
Police said Joseph was last seen by
her colleagues on Thursday around
Officers yesterday combed the two
areas in east Port-of-Spain.
A press release issued by the TTPS
said a male friend of Joseph was assist-
ing police with investigations.
Anyone with information is asked
to contact the nearest police station
or call 999.
Three shootings on Friday
Police officers were kept busy on
Friday night as separate shooting in-
cidents took the lives of three men in
central and west Trinidad.
A Diego Martin man was pronounced
dead at hospital after being shot mul-
At around 9.30 pm, 23-year-old
Randy Alexander, whose nickname was
Grimey, was at a neighbour’s house
when he was shot in the head and chest.
According to police, Alexander had
survived a shooting several years ago.
In Central, the usually quiet commu-
nity of Edinburgh 500 was shaken just
before midnight when Kareem Gomes
Witnesses said Gomes was with a
friend on Jade Drive when a man start-
ed shooting at the two. Gomes was shot
multiple times and died at the scene.
His friend was not hurt in the incident.
Police also confirmed that Christian
Mohammed, who was shot on Friday,
died at hospital hours later.
LIFE IN LEGGINGS MARCH
Former food production minister Devant
Maharaj said when he was in office the
country’s food import bill for rice was close
to US$100 million annually.
“Part of the food bill reduction plan we
had was to try and increase our production
of rice locally and we made a significant dent
in that, there were close to 1,100 acres in
Plum Mitan under rice cultivation and we had
incentives for the purchase of rice harvesters
and we were doing a lot of things, and we
started to see them come to fruition and
started to see an impact on the food import
bill,” Maharaj said.
Maharaj said the current People’s National
Movement Government had undone all the
work the previous People’s Partnership ad-
ministration had done with respect to local
Maharaj said the issue of rice processing
at NFM was an interlocking one as NFM falls
under the purview of the Ministry of Trade
“I started to do two things to try and
streamline this process which seems to have
stopped. One is that I started to make moves
within the Cabinet to have either NFM in its
entirety move to Food Production or at least
the rice aspect of it,” Maharaj said.
“Additionally, the issue of the milling of
rice in Carlsen Field—they should have that
arrangement with a private partner because
one of the complaints the farmers had is that
they were producing what they thought was
good rice and when NFM milled it, all of a
sudden the rice became dog rice and they
would not get the same price for proper rice
as opposed to dog rice for obvious reasons.”
T&T SPENDS US$100M
ANNUALLY TO IMPORT RICE
Participants in the Life in LegginsTT Solidarity March and Rally for Women’s Rights under the theme
Women’s Rights are Everyone’s Issues. Bring Yuh Message and Come!, at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-
Spain yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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