Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2013 Contents • Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
airline LIAT has signed a $65 million
loan agreement with the Caribbean
Development Bank to replace aging
Chairman Jean Holder says the
company's 20-year-old planes were
frequently breaking down and
He said late Friday that replacing
the fleet will cost $100 million and
that pilots and engineers will be
trained in France.
Holder said that seven of the 12
new airplanes will be operating by
LIAT serves 21 destinations across
the Caribbean and carried nearly
800,000 Caribbean passengers last
Its shareholders include the
governments of Antigua, Barbados
and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
LIAT signs $65M loan deal to modernise fleet
Food price inflation, which was
at 29 per cent in 2010, has been
reduced to nine per cent this year,
while T&T s agriculture sector
grew by six per cent, Food Pro-
duction Minister Devant Maharaj
Speaking at the harvest launch
of the Caroni (1975) Ltd Green Ini-
tiative at Orange Valley, Couva,
Maharaj restated government s
commitment to food security and
lowering the food inflation rate.
He said the food import bill,
which now stands at $4 billion, was
caused by years of neglect of the
agricultural sector and when the
People s Partnership took govern-
ment in 2010 less than five per cent
of agricultural plots leased to sugar
workers were in cultivation.
Maharaj said the Caroni Green
Initiative is designed to maximise
production linking farmers with
leaseholders in a scheme that will
benefit all parties.
He said the Green initiative,
which is based on a shared value
business model, guarantees a con-
sistent supply of produce every
Maharaj said when the fields were
ploughed for the first phase of the
project, 19 contracted farmers were
interested in taking part and since
then 43 farmers have indicated their
willingness to participate.
He said all abandoned Caroni
lands should be in production by
next year and 5,800 acres of land
will soon come into production pro-
viding employment opportunities.
Maharaj said labour should come
from the URP and Cepep agri pro-
grammes and people interested in
employment in agriculture.
The minister also announced that
by the end of September a 200-
strong praedial larceny squad will
begin to patrol hot spots.
Maharaj said as production
increases Namdevco would take an
active part by having several packing
houses in production near to agri-
cultural sites. He said Namdevco
exported paw paw to Barbardos ear-
lier this year and is looking at mar-
kets in St Lucia.
Maharaj: Food inflation
down to nine per cent
Four months after government
imposed a 15 per cent Common
External Tariff (CET) on chicken
imports, poultry dealers are now
complaining of a shortages on the
local market. This has caused
prices to increase to $6.50 per
pound in south and central
Amit Ramlogansingh, of Kes Meat
Shop at Rochard Road, Penal, has
been closing his shop on weekdays
because he had no poultry to sell.
"I usually sell 500 chickens a
week. For the past month, I have
been getting 100 birds short.
Because of the shortage, most of
my regular customers are not getting
their chickens," he complained.
"New customers are coming because
they cannot get chicken elsewhere.
I have to close up the shop for the
entire week because of this short-
Ramzan Ali, a salesman at Raziff
Mohammed s Poultry Depot at
Aripero Main Road, Rousillac, said
he also had a shortfall.
"All I got from the supplier was
500 chickens. We have a great
demand for chickens but we cannot
supply our customers because of
the shortage," Ali said.
A spokesman at Nel s Poultry, at
Duncan Village, San Fernando said
she had been getting only 30 per
cent of her quota for the past month.
She attributed this to the reduction
of foreign chicken parts on the local
"The import duties which they
put on foreign chickens are causing
this problem, because people who
would have imported foreign chick-
ens are now coming back to local
producers to get their chicken.
"The demand is more than the
supply right now and that is why
chicken prices are going up. Nutrina
and Supermix are taking the chick-
ens to the processing plant so there
isn t enough for the live market,"
She added: "This is the fifth week
that chicken is scarce. The price has
gone up. We buy from middlemen,
so we have no choice but to sell at
$6.50 per pound wholesale. We retail
three four-pound chickens for $100.
Chicken was $5 a pound before."
Workers at KFC restaurants in
San Fernando, Penal and Debe said
there was no shortage of chicken at
Contacted at her office, Crystal
Dipsingh, brand manager for KFC
at Prestige Holdings Ltd said she
could not comment on the matter
until she spoke to her CEO Charles
Pashley. She said she will issue a
ramp up production
President of the T&T Poultry
Association Robin Phillip said local
producers will ramp up production
by the end of this month to deal
with the shortage.
"We are coming to the end of the
2012 corn crop in the US, so some
of the corn is not fresh and this
slows down the growth of the chick-
en. With the extra heat, they are
not putting on weight," said Phillip,
who is also managing director of
Arawak. "The price of chicken is
relatively high in the US because of
Phillip explained that because beef
and pork are expensive, chicken,
which is the cheapest meat, is in
higher demand in the US and Cana-
da.He said increased production will
cater to local demand.
"We take 120 days to ramp up
production. We have 1,500 cus-
tomers nationwide, so we expect to
have a 30 per cent increase in chick-
ens by September. Between now and
the end of August it will be tight to
supply everyone," Phillip said.
He added that all customers are
"We are giving the same amount
of chickens, but the size of the
chickens is 20 per cent under the
Phillip said most retailers are sell-
ing chicken at $5.75 a pound with
a pluck fee ranging between $10 and
According to a report from the
Global Agricultural Information Net-
work, poultry meat is the single
largest US agricultural export cat-
egory to the Caribbean. In 2012, the
United States exported a record high
of US$444 million in poultry meat
to the region. T&T is the fifth largest
Caribbean market for US poultry
meat, with $29.3 million in US
exports in 2012.
Bharath reconsiders the CET
Trade and Industry Minister Vas-
ant Bharath said government may
have to reverse the 15 per cent CET
increase if chicken prices increase
further. He said the tariff, imposed
in March, was meant to protect the
"The CET did not place a ban on
imported chicken or chicken parts.
The Poultry Association lobbied to
raise the tariff on imported chicken
because a lot of it was being dumped
in the local market. The US had a
huge backlog of leg and thigh that
was finding its way here and affect-
ing the local poultry market,"
After Mexico and China raised
their tariff duties, he said, T&T did
"If we didn t do this, thousands
of jobs would have been affected,"
Bharath said. He said more than
15,000-20,000 people are employed
in the local poultry industry.
The minister said government is
keeping a close eye on escalating
"The price should stay between
$5.60 to $6, but if it increases we
may have to reverse the tariff,
because we cannot allow the prices
to get too high for the consumer,"
he said, adding that he would liaise
with the Poultry Committee of the
Ministry of Legal Affairs before tak-
ing any further action.
in south and
From left, Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj, farmer Blaise
Chookolingo, Finance Minister Larry Howai and Minister of State in the
Ministry of Environment and Water Resources Ramona Ramdial look at the
first crop of pak choi ready for harvesting at the Caroni Green Initiative,
Caroni Phase One Cultivation Unit in Orange Valley, yesterday.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR.
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