In about two weeks T&T will have its first crop of carrots grown for commercial use. The announcement was made by Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs Minister Vasant Bharath, at the launch of the third annual Inter American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) and Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Centre (CARDI) media awards for excellence in agricultural journalism, 2012. The event was held at Woodford Cafe, Fiesta Plaza, MovieTowne, yesterday and was titled Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Society. The minister took the opportunity to reveal the many initiatives his ministry embarked on in an effort to cut down a near $700 million food import bill. One such initiative was the return to locally grown rice, he said. “We will be putting into production a further 2,000 acres of land available for rice and the intention is that by 2015 we should be back to at least 30 per cent self-sufficiency as far as rice is concerned,” he added. He said after the first successful crop of onions was grown he realised the great potential the country had to grow its own food.
Bharath said the ministry was about to go on a land distribution scheme which would be one of the largest in more than 50 years. He said by next January all past applications for land leases should be cleared up. The minister said there was a need for farming to once again become a noble profession, one that would allow people performing the job to live a good standard of life. He also noted there were intentions of pulling 1,000 workers out of the URP programme to be trained in agriculture to help further provide food for the nation. Bharath also said legislation for fisheries had not been updated since 1916 and his ministry was prepared to correct that, as it already had began paying more attention to that section. Interim president of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT), Suzanne Sheppard, applauded the committee for continuing the award programme.
She believed it would help in the professional development of journalists. She said there were not many awards which recognised the unique talents of journalists. Agriculture, she said, was one of the most important sectors on which journalists reported. “There are so many dimensions, there are so many subjects under the broad heading of agriculture that indeed we do not have sufficient newspaper space, sufficient minutes and hours on radio and television to cover all the aspects we ought to be looking at,” she said. The prizes, which range from US$800 to US$1,200, will be awarded in the categories of print, radio, television, photography, new media and best media house. A new category of citizen journalist also has been added this year. Interested people can visit www.iica.int/trinidadandtobago
for more details.