AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT PROFILE - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO1

  The economy of Trinidad and Tobago is dominated by the petroleum industry and is therefore very susceptible to external shocks induced by movements in energy prices. This reality has signified the need for economic diversification hence the national economic policy and strategy place great emphasis on growth of the non-oil foreign exchange earning and relatively labour-intensive sectors of the economy, such as tourism, agriculture, agro-processing, and financial services.

Primary agriculture is an economically small but socially important sector and accounts for 16.7% of the land area. Agriculture, is small in its contribution to GDP (1.02% in 2004), but a significant employer (5.0% of employed persons) and key to the rural socio-economy. Agro-industries (food, beverage and tobacco) are a significant segment of national GDP (3.1% in 2004) and manufacturing GDP (45.2%). The country is a net food importer but a net exporter of beverages and tobacco products.

The agriculture sector has been in relative decline for several decades and declined in absolute (real) terms in 2003 and 2004. The decline has been attributed to external factors identified as: economic structural transformation, ‘Dutch disease, and changes in the global trading environment while domestic constraints have been identified as weak research, extension and marketing systems, inadequate area under irrigation, flooding and praedial larceny.

The country is taking steps to redevelop the sector and has proposed interventions within the framework of the National 20/20 vision plan. The core implementation strategy advanced emphasizes the need to increase productivity, profitability and competitiveness through (a) adoption of improved technologies, varieties and new commodities, (b) improving efficiency and effectiveness of marketing and agricultural health and food safety systems, and (c) linkages with agro-industry. The core strategy is complemented by efforts to reduce constraints of infrastructure, land tenure, credit and production risk.

The programmed interventions for addressing the above constraints are contained within the 5-year National Medium Term Investment Plan with overall objectives to increase farm profitability and international competitiveness, expansion of the Irrigated Area under cultivation ,strengthening the Marketing System and Linkages to Demand Centres, improving effectiveness, efficiency and productivity of the infrastructure and systems for (i) research, (ii) extension, (iii) training, and (iv) agricultural health and food safety, support to Agricultural Planning and developing alternatives Strategies for productive and profitable use of agricultural land including a specific focus on unused sugar land, reduce risk from praedial larceny and more effective participation of industry and farmer organizations

These national priorities and objectives are compatible with the objectives of the Jagdeo Initiative for repositioning the Region’s agriculture and rural sectors. Further, opportunities exist for Trinidad and Tobago to benefit from the regional, hemispheric and international and partnerships with the Caribbean Fisheries Regional Mechanism (CRFM), the UN FAO-led National Medium Term Investment Profiles (NMTIP), the Summit of the Americas Agriculture Agenda 2015 and to fulfill its obligations under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially Goals 1, 3, 7 and Goals 8.

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1 Extracted from the National Medium Term Priority Framework for FAO Assistance – Trinidad and Tobago Draft document, 2006.

 
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