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Tobago Chamber head calls for more vibrant agri sector

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Tobago Chamber head calls for more vibrant agri sector

Tobago Chamber head calls for more vibrant agri sector

The Tobago Business Chamber believes the current challenges surrounding inter-island cargo transportation highlight a larger issue – a need for a better established agricultural sector in Tobago.

Chamber President Martin George said there was little evidence to support claims that Tobago was suffering food shortages as the MV Cabo Star undergoes repairs following a fire onboard the vessel in August. But, he said, what’s clear is that food production on the island requires urgent attention.

Bridgemans Services Group (BSG), who owns the Cabo Star, has supplied interim cargo ship the MV Emprendedora, which has given priority to moving construction materials between the islands.

The fast ferries are being used to carry perishables, medication and food.

George called on the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to take steps to ensure the island’s food production is bolstered to meet the needs of Tobagonians.

He said: “Tobago needs to use this opportunity to examine Tobago and its food production because if one cargo vessel is down for a few days and you are talking about a food crisis and a food shortage, ask yourself where is the food that is supposed to be produced in Tobago? Where is the agricultural sector, what is the THA doing to develop a proper agricultural sector in Tobago?”

“You can’t be talking about autonomy and independence and secession and all these lofty ideas when you cannot even feed yourself for a day or a week? Where is the production of food in Tobago? You have hotels you want to bring into the island, you have businesses, when they need food supplies you have to keep importing it all the time?” George continued.

“Decades ago Tobago was in the position of being the food basket, actually supplying Trinidad and supplying other islands in the Caribbean.

So, we urge Tobagonians to use this opportunity for some introspection and some reflection, and we urge the THA to really come up with a plan to revive or restart a proper and vibrant agricultural sector in Tobago,” the Chamber President added.

George turned his attention to the Port Authority, which is manages the ports, handles cargo, and inter-island transportation.

While he welcomed the arrival of the Emprendedora, he questioned why a permanent secondary vessel has not been procured to handle cargo transportation between Trinidad and Tobago.

The Chamber head said: “It is obvious that the MV Cabo Star alone cannot take the load between Trinidad and Tobago all the time; the vessel will break down at times, it will need scheduled maintenance.

I would think it is basic common sense and planning and management to have a second vessel on the run which will ease the strain on the Cabo Star, ease the wear and tear on the Cabo Star and also have a vessel in place all the time for when one of the other vessels has to go on dry dock.”

He urged the Port Authority to consider the current circumstance an opportunity to engage in purchasing a second vessel to adequately serve cargo needs between the islands.

Tobago Chamber head calls for more vibrant agri sector

By: Darlisa Ghouralal

Loop News Trinidad and Tobago

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