Government looks to agriculture as part of post-COVID-19 plan
Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon said the development of the agricultural sector is part of the country’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan, along with the manufacturing sector.
Speaking at Monday’s media briefing on COVID-19, Gopee-Scoon said that the volatility of the energy sector has shown the need for development into the manufacturing industry, as well as the agricultural industry.
“Given the volatility on the energy side of things…we have to look at which sectors are best for the growth of the economy. The manufacturing sector…is the way to go. The expansion of the manufacturing sector is one we’re looking at.
“The agricultural sector is definitely an area of focus. Whilst we may not have been contributing considerably to the economy, it’s a sector which we have been working on. The Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries has been focusing on the sector and playing a key role in bringing the agricultural product to the population (during COVID-19). It’s the way we are going and that’s going to be key as well.”
“If I had to focus on any industries, yes the relevance on energy, yes the manufacturing industry and a greater focus on agricultural industries.”
Gopee-Scoon did refer to certain issues such as in US-based meat-packing plants, but said there have been no issues to date locally. She said that there is no shortage in the import of food and other items as Finance Minister Colm Imbert assured that there would be sufficient foreign exchange for this purpose.
Gopee-Scoon: Minor price increases for some food items
She also referred to the fluctuation of global food prices, she said that currently, the country has no issues with the supply of food imports.
She said they are aware of the price of supplies and said they have been conducting a risk analysis by product and monitoring the situation.
"Some members of the private sector have had to look at alternative supply chains and therein we would have had some minor price increases. For instance, there would have been a challenge with grains (and beans). Many importers went to an alternative supplier, and therefore that caused the price of some bean items to go up. So those are the kind of challenges we've had."
She said the Ministry continues to analyse these products in their efforts to ensure food security.
She also urged the public to become involved in a local seed growing campaign courtesy being launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.
The Ministry launched the GrowTrinbago Seed Initiative in which over 50,000 seeds will be distributed to households across the country, featuring seeds from the country's seed bank.
Some of the seeds being given include local crops such as pigeon peas, melongene, bodi, corn, pumpkin and ochro.
Several organisations have launched local kitchen garden kits which will allow homeowners to grow their own crops at home.
The distribution will be coordinated through MPs and local councillors.
For more information contact the Ministry on 220-6253