Eye on the Economy

Food prices in Trinidad and Tobago will go up again.

President of the Supermarkets Association Rajiv Diptee said due to higher import costs, rising feed prices will impact the cost of livestock to consumers.

Diptee told the Express recently that the global food market shifts in feed production warranted changes, and were too often absorbed by supermarkets, which can no longer bear the burden due to the challenging economic climate.

Member of Parliament for Couva North Ravi Ratiram says farmers are reeling from the price increase because one of the three major local suppliers announced a ten per cent increase in the wholesale price of feed.

In a press release on Thursday, Ratiram said, “Over the past few months, there have been increases in the retail price of feed. Now, this latest increase in the wholesale price is sure to cause a ripple effect that will result in food inflation.”

Ratiram has squarely pushed the blame for such a development on the shoulders of the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat and the Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon.

“The Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries continues to show his disdain for farmers by recusing himself from the issue, stating that the importation of feed and feed pricing is a private matter to which the Government has no control over. The Minister of Trade continues to be clueless about the matter, as reported in the national media on 27/12/20. Here we have the minister responsible for agriculture and the minister responsible for the supply side of the sector both demonstrating their incompetence, ignorance, and contributing to the destruction of the agriculture sector,” Ratiram said.

He went on further to highlight the shortage of milk in the country.

He also chastised the Government for “turning its back” on food security, farmers, and agriculture.

“Our food import cover is wholly insufficient and policy adjustments need to be made for considering strategies such as increased local production or forward buying,” Ratiram said.

Shiraz Khan, the former president of the Unified Farmers Association, told the Express recently when it came to farmers, the Government is not doing enough to assist.

The topic of increasing prices for livestock and feed is something Khan said he spoke about since last year.

He said, “We are not getting any support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries nor the Government. During the Covid-19 period, every other sector was assisted but a blind eye was turned on the farmers in Trinidad.”

Khan also noted the increased frequency of praedial larceny as many people are unemployed and he called on the relevant authorities to address the matter urgently.

The price hike in feed has also affected egg producers, who are now paying the new price of livestock feed, which came into effect yesterday.

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