NAMDEVCO has failed to pay farmers for goods supplied to the government for its Food Hamper Programme for the needy. When the more than 100 farmers supplied goods to NAMDEVCO, the State company, issued a bill of sale, promising payment in 21 days. “More than 60 days have passed and farmers have not been compensated,” said Ravi Ratiram, MP for Couva North and Shadow Minister for Agriculture in the UNC Opposition.
Farmers from several districts – Jerningham, Princes Town, Gasparillo, Penal, Barrackpore, Moruga, and Siparia – have appealed to Ravi Ratiram to intervene on their behalf. “Fearing victimization, our farmers are afraid to identify themselves and chose to be anonymous,“ said Ratiram.
So far Ravi Ratiram has issued a press release to the media to highlight the plight of the farmers. He is calling upon the Minister of Agriculture, Clarence Rambharat, to demonstrate some self-respect by immediately compensating the farmers.
The government has been distributing 600 hampers in each constituency to families in need since March 2021. The farmers are enthused by this effort to distribute homegrown food but are now disappointed. According to MP Ratiram, “farmers have been faced with mounting overheads-fuel costs and repairs to machinery, labour costs, payment of loans in addition to meeting family and personal expenses.”
Senator Avinash Singh and Parliamentary Secretary is a farmer in the Felicity district. “He was expected to understand the plight of the farmers but he is about himself,” said Ratiram. Ratiram who showed to me a video of an access road built by the Ministry of Agriculture for Avinash Singh to access his land and not beyond to facilitate other farmers. “This is the abuse of authority for selfish gains,” said Ratiram, “but it is the PNM’s governance culture.”
The press release said: “It is most unfortunate to see such blatant disrespect and disregard being paid to our farmers from across the country,” and called upon NAMDEVCO to pay the farmers their just dues on time and without delay.