Food production increased, while food prices fell under the PNM, says Agriculture Minister Arnold Piggott. He said this was just one initiative of the PNM during the party's tenure in office. Piggott was speaking during the party's political meeting at Chin Chin Junction, Cunupia, on Saturday night. He said 150,000 packets of seeds, distributed in 2008 and 2009, led to increased production during 2009, "a bumper year for the agricultural sector." He said consumers benefited from more food and better prices last year, as food price inflation fell to one per cent in December. Piggott, however, noted that this figure rose to 2.7 per cent in January 2010. He said the mega farms at Chaguaramas and Tucker Valley produced close to 350,000 tones of produce for the local market.
He said moves by the Government allowed the farming community to get a supply of water during the harsh dry season, as water was released downstream from dams and reservoirs. Piggott said small farmers were benefiting through several projects that saw the improvement of guaranteed markets and transport infrastructure, while seven farmer's markets had been opened to give small farmers an avenue to sell produce on weekends. He said the six years the UNC spent in office, nothing substantial was done to develop agriculture. He said the Opposition today offered no solutions. "They oppose everything and recommend nothing of value," Piggott said.
Public Utilities Minister Mustapha Abdul- Hamid, the Chaguanas East MP, criticised unity arrangements among opposition forces, saying that such arrangements had a history of collapsing. He also criticised Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar's speech on Friday at the Emerald Plaza, St Augustine. He said Persad-Bissessar's presentation lacked lustre and offered nothing, while the organisers instead focused on entertaining UNC supporters with songs from Celine Dion. Abdul-Hamid also questioned the integrity of Jack Warner, the Chaguanas West MP. He said Warner's name was called in a 2006 World Cup ticket scandal that was investigated by a United Kingdom newspaper. He said the newspaper report alleged that Warner and his relatives made huge profits from ticket sales.