TRADE and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon is assuring that there continues to be a secure and stable supply of food in Trinidad and Tobago, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gopee-Scoon said yesterday that the ministry has been keeping a keen eye on the import of essential goods such as food, cleaning products and medication.

She said Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan has been ensuring that both the Port of Port of Spain and Point Lisas are functioning effectively so that all incoming goods are cleared in a timely manner.

“And this is why we feel so comfortable that there is food security in this country, and this is apart from the security via our own agricultural products. But we have been monitoring and we are having the inflows,” she said in response to questions from the media during yesterday’s Covid-19 virtual news conference.

She noted, however, that Government is aware of the challenges some countries are facing in terms of supplying basic goods.

“We, at the level of the ministry, have been doing our risk analysis by product, so that we have been monitoring closely. Some of the members of the private sector have had to look at alternative supply chains. And therein we would have had some minor price increases,” she said,

“For instance, there would have been a challenge with grains from a particular source. Many of the importers, in regards to dry beans and so on, they went to an alternative supplier...and that causes the price of some bean items to go up. So that’s the kind of challenges we have had, in terms of supplies,” she noted.

Focus on agriculture, manufacturing

Gopee-Scoon given the volatility of the energy sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the focus going forward will have to be on expanding and transforming other sectors of the economy.

“The manufacturing sector works well and therefore that’s the place to go. There are systems in place, there’s the understanding of business operations, there are employees who are engaged and well trained so obviously the expansion of the manufacturing sector is one we are looking at. There are significant markets in the region, we have been looking extra-regionally as well,” she said.

Another area of focus is agriculture, Gopee-Scoon said.

“Whilst the sector is not contributing significantly to the economy it is a sector we have been working on,” she stated.

“The Ministry and Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries has been focussing on the sector. They’ve paid a key role in terms of the Covid response, in bringing agricultural products to the population. We’ve done very well in terms of the poultry industry. There have been a number of private sector interventions into agriculture as well. It’s the way that we are going and therefore that’s going to be key as well,” she said.

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