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«Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011-2014 Ministry of Planning and the Economy October 2011 Table of Contents PREFACE BY THE MINISTER OF PLANNING AND ...»

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The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has predicted that the demand for food will increase by 50 per cent by 2030 and 70 per cent by 2050.3 To meet this rising demand, it is imperative that countries develop a thriving and viable agriculture sector that will form the foundation for becoming food secure by 2050. Nevertheless, attaining national food security is not without its challenges, especially given factors such as changes in the global climate and population; economic, social and environmental sustainability; and the evolution of worldwide markets and distribution mechanisms. The agriculture sector in Trinidad and Tobago comprises production, processing and marketing activities in the crop, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors. The contribution of domestic agriculture to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010 was 0.4 per cent4, and although the sector accounts for only 3.5 per cent5 of employment, it provides employment to many persons and families in rural areas.

3 OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2009-2018 (FAO, 2009) 4 Review of the Economy 2010, Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago 5 First Quarter Bulletin 2010 (Labour), Central Statistical Office Trinidad and Tobago

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The challenges facing the local agriculture sector include seasonality and natural disasters (such as flooding); low skills; praedial larceny; land tenure, scarcity of labour and an aging farming population. More specifically, some of the key challenges that affect the cost, quality

and level of production within the sector include:

1. Poor agricultural practices and low levels of technology use;

2. Inadequate Infrastructure – poor access roads, water resource management and drainage systems;

3. Limited quality and quantity of land designated for agricultural purposes; and

4. Delays in farmer regularisation on State lands.

In spite of these challenges, agriculture is a viable option for diversification. The surge in demand for food globally coupled with the low levels of food stocks in developed countries, adverse global climatic conditions and high energy prices are factors that give rise to the need to revitalise the sector. Increased investment is therefore required. Successful expansion of agricultural exports will encourage existing farmers to expand their operations and encourage investment in the sector. Agriculture for export has the potential to generate jobs, as well as strengthen entrepreneurship within the sector. Movement of resources from traditional agricultural activities to research, development and employment of new production methods, as well as exports of non-traditional commodities will contribute to the growth of the sector.

Increased usage of locally produced raw materials in the value chain approach will also be an important aspect of this shift in the industry.


In order to revitalise the Sector and put it on a sustainable footing, Government has adopted a strategy of nine (9) key initiatives.

Strategy: Increase Agricultural Production, Distribution and Access The implementation of a comprehensive policy with an appropriate package of incentives,

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Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 40 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014 improvements to the institutional framework and marketing mechanisms, and the removal of structural bottlenecks will contribute to the transformation of the sector. The specific actions

to be undertaken include:

• Implement measures to manage, monitor, maintain and sustain support systems for

food production:

1. Agricultural Incentives: The revised Agricultural Incentives Programme (AIP) takes into account the realities of a business in today’s competitive environment, adopting new technology and mechanisation. It has been restructured to provide

rebates for, inter alia:

- The installation of on-farm security to curb the problem of praedial larceny

- The aquaculture sub-sector

- Post-harvest operations (refrigerated vehicles) and marketing (value added)

- Agro-processing

- Start-up production costs to primarily encourage youth interest and new farmers in the sector

2. Partner with the private sector in strategic areas where necessary to propel the sector forward - The Trinidad and Tobago Agri-business Association (TTABA) is a Not for Profit Development Company established by private sector agri-business stakeholders with Government’s support to accelerate national economic and social development through the sustainable expansion of the Agri-business sector. Its core business is the provision of technical services for the development of selected agricultural commodity/industry value-chains and the provision of high quality agro-processing services;

3. Strengthen institutional marketing to support farmers for domestic, regional and international market penetration; and

4. Incentivise the banking sector to provide a window for agricultural investment.

• Comprehensively address infrastructure challenges facing farmers and

fishermen through:

1. The On-Farms Pond Programme: There is a critical need for irrigation for crops especially during the dry season. To this end, the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs has embarked on the construction of 300 ponds at farms throughout the country. In addition, five (5) large

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Strategy: Develop a Water Resources Management Strategy The sustainable management of water resources requires cross-sectoral planning and integration

to ensure growth and transformation of the agriculture sector. Government will therefore:

• Initiate integrated action on water resource management, drainage, irrigation, flooding, water capture, conservation, and sustainable flood production

• Strengthen institutional capacity of the relevant institutions for water management in agriculture

• Improve policy integration and coherence between agriculture, water, energy and environmental policies.

Strategy: Improve Land Management and the Tenure of Farmers Consistent with Government’s policy shift that all development takes place in the context of a land use and physical planning framework, a National Land Use Policy that specifies and protects land to be used exclusively for agriculture will be developed. In addition, action will

be taken to:

• Introduce a national agricultural land information inventory system to enable Government to optimise state land usage

• Accelerate the programme of farmer regularisation on State lands on the basis of cooperative efforts

• Fast-track the transfer of deeds and titles to farmers for legitimate ownership Strategy: Expand Source Markets for Imports Recent global events such as Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, Australia’s floods, Russia’s drought and India’s ban on wheat exports, have all had a negative impact on international food prices, food availability and affordability, and have heightened the need for food independence.

Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 42 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014 To reduce prices and ensure a greater level of security of supply of food, additional source markets will be identified to reduce the high level of uncertainty experienced with the traditional sources of food and food inputs.

Strategy: Encourage Youth Participation in the Agriculture Sector There is a fledgling interest amongst the youth in the sector which needs to be encouraged, particularly in the face of the aging farming population. There is a need for the harmonisation of the existing farmers’ knowledge, skills and experiences with the current farming methods and use of technology. This will work to inspire the younger generations to pursue a career in the sector, as well as contribute to increased productivity and higher production levels.

Government will undertake the following actions:

• Continue the Youth Apprenticeship Programme in Agriculture (YAPA)

• Continue the Trinidad and Tobago’s Biosciences, Agriculture and Food Technologies (BAFT) Programme: The Programme’s vision is “to transform the food and agriculture sector to be commercially driven, sustainable, responsible, innovative, harmonised and pioneering”. The projects with commercial potential undertaken by students in the Programme include the hydration of sugars from fruits; use of goats’ milk in the production of ice cream for lactose intolerant individuals and a novel invention of pineapple, mango and pawpaw vinaigrette for salads

• Commence a Youth Internship Programme to bring on board 50 agricultural graduates on an annual basis to be trained and mentored by experienced agriculturalists in agribusiness entrepreneurship Strategy: Encourage Higher Levels of Productivity for Locally Produced Goods Productivity in the agriculture sector remains low and local produce is uncompetitive in both domestic and foreign markets. Increasing production will have a positive impact on the sector’s contribution to GDP; decrease the food import bill and lower food prices. At the same time, it will increase prosperity for our farmers and fishermen and also provide sustainable livelihoods

to those involved in the sector. Specific actions include:

• Encouraging the reuse of by-products from agro-processing as a feed stock for farmers

• Designing and implementing a package of incentives to encourage value-added product development

• Removing uncertainty and encouraging investments in the sector

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Strategy: Creating the Linkages between Agriculture and other Productive Sectors The agriculture sector can be a valuable resource base for many other sectors of the economy.

The Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs will collaborate with relevant stakeholders to introduce incentives to foster a multi-sectoral approach to agricultural development such as agriculture/tourism, agriculture/culture and agriculture/manufacturing.

Strategy: Effectively Monitor Prices and Movement of Inflation To address inequalities of access to nutritious food, the Government will monitor the price of food and implement measures to address food inflation.

Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 44 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014 Figure 2 Key Results Agriculture And Food Security

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The incidence of diabetes and hypertension in Trinidad and Tobago has grown by approximately 68 per cent and 158 per cent between 1990 and 20067, respectively. These and other CNCDs (heart disease and cancer) account for four (4) out of the five (5) leading causes of death in the country. Human capital losses as a result of the direct (cost of medical care in terms of prevention) and indirect (loss of productivity as a result of premature mortality and morbidity) costs of treating with these diseases increase the strain on public expenditure and pose a serious threat if preventative measures are not aggressively put in place to reverse this trend.

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Reducing child mortality rates to single digit figures remains a challenge as infant mortality, neo - natal and peri-natal mortality rates fluctuated above 10 per 1,000 live births over the period 1999-2006.8 Addressing the importance of nutrition, child health practices such as immunization, increasing the availability of trained and specialist medical personnel, improved hospital standards and increased pre and post natal care through maternal education programmes will aid in reducing these rates.

Moreover, as the country continues to grapple with curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, statistics reveal that the incidence of new cases remains high. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is not only a health issue but an economic one that poses a serious threat to national development efforts.

The economic impact at 2009 was estimated at $41.25 million. The cost to treat one person with HIV for one year is approximately $14,000 and it is estimated that as at the end of 2009 there were approximately 21,636 people infected with the HIV virus with approximately four (4) new infections per day.9 The number of reported new HIV positive cases has remained consistent from 2005 to 2008 at 1,453 and 1,450 cases respectively with a small decline in 2009 at 1,384 cases.10 Since 2004, the incidence of HIV has been higher among females than males in all age groups. Young people in the age group 25-34 years, have been most affected, recording the highest cumulative cases of HIV infection. In relation to gender, females in the 15-29 year age group constitute the group with the higher incidence of HIV infection.11 Combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic will require a collaborative effort from the Government, private sector and civil society to reduce the incidence of HIV and improve the levels of treatment and care for people living with HIV (PLWHIV). In that regard, a programme of action is being proposed consisting of coordinated activities to increase awareness and effect behavioural change in terms of safer sexual practices and reproductive health. The implementation of such activities would focus primarily on the areas of prevention and treatment.

8 Central Statistical Office, Trinidad and Tobago 9 Ministry of Health, Treatment and Care Data Report 2010.

10 HIV Surveillance Report (2009), National Surveillance Unit, Ministry of Health.

11 Draft Five Year National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan, National AIDS Coordinating Committee.

Innovation for Lasting Prosperity 48 Medium-Term Policy Framework 2011 - 2014 Training and retaining medical personnel continue to be problematic as competing sectors globally deplete our local skills base. Introducing comparable remuneration packages and safe, work friendly environments are crucial to the retention of staff. Implementing proper systems for the management of the health sector and building the image of the health care system into one which is centred on efficiency, accessibility and affordability will ensure the fulfilment of both our long and medium-term objectives.


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