Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 14th 2013 Contents A11
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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More than US$2 billion is spent on the annual
food import bill by Caricom countries, which have
a combined population of only six million people.
Dr Richard Cox, capacity building officer of the
UN Convention to Combat Desertification, shared
the statistic yesterday.
"It is worth noting that Caricom itself produced
the figures to show that our import food bill runs
over US$2 billion every year," he said.
His comments were part of a capacity-building
workshop on the NAP/IFS Alignment Process in the
"A place that has such great soil is importing $2
billion and more of food every year. What sort of
food security are you talking about when you have
such an import bill and the English-speaking
Caribbean is about six million people?"
Cox said this was significant and stakeholders must
get involved in proper sustainable land management
and finding solutions.
"If we appreciate that land degradation is really
about achieving sustainable development and about
the livelihood and the very future existence of some
of the most economically vulnerable people on this
planet, then we agree that increased land degradation
will exacerbate poverty, create greater threat to food
security resulting in greater social and economic dis-
location," he said.
The situation is "particularly acute" in Small island
Developing States (SIDS). UNDP resident represen-
tative Richard Blewitt said like most SIDS, Caribbean
countries faced challenges originating from their
small size and geographical location, small economies,
limited infrastructure, and high vulnerability to natural
disasters such as hurricanes.
The workshop, which concludes on August 15, is
being held at the Capital Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain,
by the Ministry of the Environment and Water
Resources, in collaboration with the UN.
Minister in the Ministry of the Environment and
Water Resources Ramona Ramdial said since 2010
to the present there had been a two per cent decrease
in T&T s estimated $4 billion annual food import
She attributed the decrease to a series of govern-
ment projects, called the Caroni Green Farm Initiative,
through which farming was done on a large scale to
supply supermarkets and people with domestically
produced food. She said the project was very suc-
cessful to date.
Ramdial said both her ministry and the Ministry
of Planning and Sustainable Development stand to
gain valuable information from the workshop regarding
land resources management.
The Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Devel-
opment recently revised its policy on hillside devel-
opment in regards to flooding.
As an example of the importance of proper land
resources management she cited the Diego Martin
area, where she said flooding caused landslides and
landslips, which in turn were the result of agricultural
or housing hillside development.
Another example of the importance of land use
was the Pt Fortin to San Fernando Highway project,
she said, adding that the lack of proper transportation
routes in south Trinidad precipitated the need for
the highway extension project.
Caricom food import bill
crosses US$2b yearly
UNCCD secretariat representative Dr Richard Cox chats with Minister of State in the Ministry of the
Environment and Water Resources Ramona Ramdial at the opening ceremony of the subregion capacity
building workshop at Capital Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
President of the Single Fathers
Association Rondel Seales has
slammed the public s condemnation
of Princes Town father Rosales
Edwards, who denied his former girl-
friend custody of their five-month-
old son Caleb Edwards.
Although not taking any side in the
custodial rivalry between the Edwards
and Caleb s mother Theresse Roy, Seales
said Edwards was portrayed as a bad
father without anyone knowing the
facts behind his decision to claim full
Roy, in a newspaper interview last
month, accused Edwards of kidnapping
her son, but according to Seales yes-
terday, that was impossible.
He criticised what he said was the
perception that women were the right-
ful custodians of children even without
legal custody being granted to any par-
ent. "It is very hard to believe that a
father can kidnap his own child espe-
cially where there is no custody order
in place," Seales said.
"This is socially what we have taught
ourselves as a nation, that a dad cannot
care for his child. Who do we say, legal-
ly, had to right to say where the child
was at any point in time?
"Look at how the country responded,
look at the way the media responded,
as if this man was already guilty before
even proven innocent."
Seales said the newspapers (not the
T&T Guardian) first published a one-
sided report which purported that
Edwards had kidnapped Caleb and it
was turned into a fiasco
He, however, admitted that Edwards,
who kept Caleb away from his mother
for 22 days, should have acted differently
in claiming full custody, but said gov-
ernment systems tend to favour moth-
ers.Edwards excuse that he was trying
to protect Caleb from an environment
that was not suitable for a child could
have been true, he said.
According to Seales, the social work-
ers who advised Edwards to relinquish
custody of the child should have first
done a proper investigation before mak-
ing such a decision.
He said an investigation would have
been vital to their upcoming custodial
hearing in September as it would have
helped the magistrate to make a fair
"He could have been truly protecting
the child from something truly dan-
gerous. We have no idea so at the end
of the day, what should have been done;
the social workers should have come
in and done proper investigations on
both sides---father and mother---and at
the end of the day when they get to
court, they could state their case to the
court and the magistrate would try to
come up to fair decision."
However, he said, fathers were losing
faith in the judicial system.
Single fathers' group
defends Caleb's dad
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