The United National Congress (UNC) is calling on the government to tackle predial robbery and provide the Predial Thieves Squad with the resources it needs to fight crime.
It was one of many issues relating to the agricultural sector that Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram addressed during the weekly opposition press conference at his office in Charles Street, Port of Spain.
He renewed his call on the government to look into the matter.
Ratiram was joined by opposition Senator David Nakhid as they discussed crime, the agricultural investment forum and exhibition and the recent ban on the scrap metal industry.
“As far as our farmers are concerned, predial theft remains a major threat to agriculture and the livelihoods of this group of people.”
Ratiram said he has repeatedly spoken about the problems faced by the team. He called on Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries Minister Kazim Hosein to fix the team.
For fishermen, piracy was a major problem. Ratiram said he met with National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds about the matter, but nothing was done.
Ratiram said he hopes that in the next budget the government considers establishing a coastguard base at Carli Bay, Couva, so that there is a coastguard presence along the Gulf of Paria which can patrol from south to north.
Asked if he hoped the projects coming out of the Agricultural Investment Forum and Expo II would come to fruition, Ratiram said that at the regional level there is hope for the agricultural sector. ; but as a country under the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration, where many of its policies failed to materialize, it seemed that TT was in dire straits.
The forum and expo saw the President of Guyana, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, calling for greater food security in the region and urging business leaders to invest more to make the region sustainable. Ali and the Prime Minister of TT also pledged to work together to facilitate trade in Caricom.
The exhibition ran from August 19 to 21.
Ratiram said, “Despite the neglect that the agricultural sector has received from this PNM led by Rowley, we at UNC take this opportunity to congratulate the exhibit participants and government leaders. Caricom for initiatives aimed at achieving regional food security. ”
He added that the issue was something opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had spoken about for a long time.
Ratiram said the country should work collectively and be serious about implementing what was said at the expo.
Farmers are no better off today than they were seven years ago, he said. Ratiram said farmers face many problems including flooding and predial theft.
“If our farmers can only access the agricultural plots on foot, how will they get the produce and how will they get the produce out of the field? And when the crops sit there and rot the field, whether above or below the ground, what happens?
“The country is suffering. Citizens are suffering. The price of goods in the market keeps going up and up and then the countries blame the farmers.
“The infrastructure issues facing these central farmers also extend to the Ministry of Works and Transport and the inability to maintain some basic infrastructure like the bridges that are needed to access these agricultural plots.”
Ratiram said he hoped there would be an injection into agriculture following the forum and expo and not “just a photo op with Caricom leaders”.
He said government actions prove otherwise when it comes to food.