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GOVERNMENT RAZES CROPS IN D’ABADIE, CHAGUANAS

posted 25 Apr 2011, 20:09 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 25 Apr 2011, 20:30 ]

GOVERNMENT RAZES CROPS IN D’ABADIE, CHAGUANAS


BRUTAL ATTACK ON FARMERS STUNS WITNESSES

On the morning of Easter Monday, April 25th, contactors, on behalf of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), protected by heavily armed riot police bulldozed large acreages of agricultural produce in the D’Abadie and Chaguanas areas. The HDC is an agency of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago responsible for implementing the government’s housing policy. 

The destruction was first scheduled for Good Friday, three days earlier.(see here) 

The farmers cultivating those lands have had their labour and investments reduced to nothingness through violent State Action. This indecent and vile eviction was enacted by an uncaring and backward government on these poor farmers after decades of occupying these lands, producing food for our people and employing themselves.

Sweet Potatoes with just two to three weeks to market were strewn about the lands, so too were pineapple plants with young fruit and other food crops destroyed by the bulldozers sent by HDC to make way for HOUSING ON PRIME AGRICULTURAL LANDS. These farmers were producing food for local consumption and are being persecuted by their own government, while just a block away a Foreign Retail Corporation was retailing a host of Foreign Produced Products including Food, imported into the country with scarce hard currency.

Successive Governments have continuously attacked our Farmers throughout the years. They have been run out of the lands they cultivate, have had their crops destroyed, most of their subsidies removed, denied access roads and water and treated with contempt and disrespect by Governments.

We elect Governments to promote the people’s and country’s interest in the course of national development. Food Production ranks very high on the list of development goals of every country in the world. Yet our backward governments have over the years not only failed to promote local food production but in their incompetence and shortsightedness have historically never failed to take punitive action against local farmers who seek to reduce our country’s unsustainably HIGH FOOD IMPORT BILL - a cost that threatens to create a destructive FOREIGN EXCHANGE CURRENCY CRISIS that could see us unable to buy critical foreign goods like medicines and equipment for our health sector when our main hard currency earner - natural gas declines, as it must one day.

The farmers looked dejected, helpless and defeated. The frightening guns and the HDC Police were on hand to allow the destruction and wanton wastage of food. Representatives of the National Food Crop Farmers Association (NFFA) other farmers representatives, the Rights Action Group (RAG) and Residents of the Area were incensed by the violent, nonsensical and wicked destructive action taken by the Government.

The Representative for the Area was absent and said to be at the Arima Races less than two miles away, sipping a Rum and Soda. The Minister of Housing with responsibility for HDC was said to be at nearby Piarco, seeing the Prime Minister off to Brazil (the largest Food Producer in our Region).

The Minister of Agriculture was also absent and was said to be also at Piarco. There was no Minister or Politician available to stop this disaster. You see this is not election season. It would not have mattered who was in Government or in Opposition. If elections were in the air, these vampires would have been there making false promises and pretending they would fix the problem when they get in power. Now that they are in power, they care nothing of the people who voted them in. They now use their power to serve the interest of big business that financed them and bought out their government and now call the shots.

The late Norris Deonarine always said that Houses must not be constructed on Agricultural Lands and that there must be a Land Use Policy that will preserve and promote Food Production. He also said that Food Security is one of the most important factors in Peoples’ Development.

Our Governments on the other hand do the opposite. Can we really believe that Cabinet was not informed by HDC of the impending bulldozing and destruction of farmers’ crops and their expulsion from prime agricultural lands? They must have known. Unless they lack coordination and the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

They also seem to be void of any Agricultural Policy or Program. There is a worldwide food crisis at present. Imported Food is not only very expensive, it has also become scarce because of Climate Change. Russia has stopped exporting Wheat. China is now renting lands in Asia and Africa for Food Production to export back to China. Brazil is on a massive Food Production drive for the past two decades.

Governments in Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia and Western Europe are increasing subsidies to their Farmers to grow more food. Our Governments on the other hand imports most of our food, refuses to subsidize our farmers and drives them off the land and destroys their crops.

Trinidad and Tobago is a very rich country with a small population relative to our Gross Domestic Product of US$27.1 billion. We have the means and resources, human and natural to embark on progressive peoples’ development. We are tired of political gimmicks and tokenism from our recycled corrupted politicians. They have taken us for a rough ride for the past fifty years.


It is time for our Farmers Groups, Workers Organizations and all Civic Groups to take a stand, protest and demand proper Governance and Participation in the running of this country. Democracy is not only voting every five years. It is Peoples Participation in the development of the country and demanding that the Government we elect implement proposals that promote our development.

OUR ELECTED LEADERS ARE NOT OUR MASTERS. WE ELECTED THEM TO SERVE OUR INTEREST. NOT THE INTEREST OF THOSE WHO FINANCE THEIR PARTY. AND WE PAY THEM VERY GOOD INDEED. WE NEED TO ORGANIZE AND ACT. OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE THE CRITICAL FACTOR IN EFFECTING CHANGE.

Cecil Paul. April 25, 2011

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