Less food imports this year – says T&T Food Production Ministry

(Trinidad Express) Less food has been imported for this year because of an increase in local food production, according to the Ministry of Food Production.

A ministry press release stated “Minister of Food Production, Devant Maharaj noted that the July 2013 Central Bank Report for the Agriculture Sector showed that there was increased availability of selected local commodities in 2013. For the first half of 2013, there was increased availability of local produce such as sweet potatoes (70.8 per cent), cucumbers (33.3 per cent), cassava (31.8 per cent) and watermelons (29.6 per cent) when compared with the same period a year earlier.

“Provisional information from Central Bank’s July 2013 Report also suggested lower imports of selected commodities due to the increased availability of local produce at wholesale markets. For example, imports of sweet potatoes, cabbages and tomatoes declined by 28.1 per cent, 14.2 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively in the first six months of 2013 when compared with the corresponding period in 2012,” the release added.

The release pointed out that on a year on year basis, food inflation reached single digits for the first time since October 2011, slowing to 9.4 per cent in April 2013.

“Since then food inflation has picked up somewhat in June (12.6 per cent), but still remained much lower when compared with June 2012 when it stood at 24.1 per cent.

“In 2012 the food, drink and tobacco sub-sector accounted for 4.6 per cent of GDP (1t constant 2000 prices) up from 3.4 per cent. As a present of the manufacturing sector, the food, drink and tobacco subsector contributed 52 per cent of the manufacturing sector’s GDP, up from 46 per cent.”

The Central Bank Report also indicated that in 2011 exports of food and live animals, beverages and tobacco accounted for 54.6 per cent of the total non-energy exports to the Commonwealth Caribbean from Trinidad and Tobago, the release stated.

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