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posted 29 Apr 2011, 18:54 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 30 Apr 2011, 23:11 ]



The Transport and Industrial Workers’’ Union (TIWU) condemns the brutal destruction of food crops at D’Abadie and Chaguanas authorised by the Ministry of Housing on Easter Monday, the Day of Destruction.

It is clear to TIWU that a conspiracy was hatched between the Ministry of Food Production and the Ministry of Housing, using the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to bulldoze those lands and offer enhanced compensation as an inducement to the farmers not to obstruct their policy of building houses on lands suitable for agriculture.

How else does one explain the ignoring of the document entitled Justification for the Preservation of the Prime Agricultural lands in Crescent Gardens, D’Abadie, prepared by the National Food Crop Farmers’ Association, the Crescent Gardens Residents Association and the Santa Monica Residents’ Association.

This document pointed out that there are suitable state lands just 100 metres south of their proposed site which would accommodate housing, while preserving the existing 75 acres of productive farmlands.

This document was presented to Winston Dookeran , Minister of Finance, Mary King Planning Minister, Anil Roberts (MP for affected area), Vasant Bharat Minister of Agriculture and Roodal Moonilal Housing Minister. None of them even acknowledged the document, far less using it as a basis for consultation and negotiation.

Our suspicion of conspiracy is deepened when it is realised that the National Food Crop Farmers’ Association (NFFA) wrote to Minister Moonilal on April 18th, one week before the Easter Monday assault. This letter pointed out relocation would involve starting from scratch which would be a difficult proposition “for anyone who has invested several years in the laborious vocation that farming is.”

NFFA’s letter also pointed out that relocation would “send a signal to other farmers nationally that several years’ investment in farming can be destroyed with a singular policy decision, thereby discouraging them and other potential farmers from giving serious consideration to farming and the food security that it brings to our nation.”

The April 18th letter also made the critical point that: “In light of the inflationary pressures that high food prices put on us locally, prime agricultural lands must not be used for housing especially more so when suitable non – agricultural sites are available in close proximity.”

Despite the offer of continued consultation based on the document referred to, the Ministry’s answer was to send out the bulldozers under machine-gun protection.

The consistent violation of land use policy even in the light of a growing worldwide food crisis suggests that food importers wield inordinate influence with governments and see any move toward food security as a threat to their $4 billion per annum import industry. When these capitalists finance political parties they exercise great influence over policy. Politics is about the advancement of sectional interests. Who have more corn does feed more fowl.

This episode raises the issue of land use policy which has been violated for decades by governments over the years. We insist that agricultural lands must be used for agriculture. We, further, insist that lands be distributed in such a way as to ensure security of tenure for farmers and that infrastructural and particularly irrigation amenities, support and incentives to the farmers be provided to ensure a high standard of production.

Roland Sutherland