Consumers are likely to face increased prices for local fruits and vegetables says Debideen Manick, president of the Felicity Food Crop Farmers Association and a director of the Agricultural Society of T&T. And if there is a decrease in prices, he said, it would not be significant.
Farmers are facing an uphill battle with the Giant African Snail, steep increases in the price of pesticides and fertilisers, bad weather and water shortages in the dry season.
“I am not hopeful that prices would go down significantly. In fact, prices may go up because it’s difficult to produce food during the dry season when you don’t have enough water. Farmers are disappointed that they are not getting assistance from the Government.”
On Sunday, Manick said despite being announced in the 2022-2023 Budget that there was an allocation to deal with the Giant African Snails, the Government has not spent any money to deal with this pest. Yesterday, however, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that it was offering a bounty to people for the capture and submission of the snails to a designated site.
Manick said farmers face a barrage of issues. The cost of production has risen since the onset of the pandemic, they face global supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine have pushed up the prices of fertilisers and agrochemicals. “It now costs four times as much to produce an acre of land when compared to just a few years ago before the pandemic. We are in a deep crisis at the moment. We need land tenure, we need assistance to dig ponds, we need irrigation systems, we need so many things.”
Farmers have also been begging for more than a year to have the bridge over the Caparo River repaired, so farmers can access their agricultural plots.
He lamented that nothing serious was being done by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We are not seeing anything being seriously done by the Ministry of Agriculture. We in Felicity are raising our funds and working with private entities to get some assistance for the farmers who are crying out and really need help.”
Minister of Agriculture Kazim Hosein could not be reached for comment on the concerns raised by farmers.