Farmers have held several protests against the bulldozing of crops at Pineapple Smith Lands in D’Abadie and Egypt Trace in Chaguanas. They have requested compensation and a proper land policy to determine what areas are used for housing and agriculture.
“I am hopeful it will be to the benefit of all concerned, whichever way it goes we need to settle down...we can’t allow the issue to continue in this current state, it is the only way we are going to progress and get to a solution when we sit down around the table and talk about it,” he said.
He added that he would be taking a note to Cabinet in two to three weeks to see how the ministry could begin to quickly develop a land policy.
He said he will speak to Moonilal before the meeting to ensure there was no change in their position which included compensation for the farmers and an offer to relocate to other lands.
Bharath who stood in solidarity with the farmers during a protest last Friday said he was not reprimanded by the Prime Minister for his actions and does not expect to be.
“I have not been reprimanded, essentially my job is to produce more food that is the People’s Partnership’s mandate; respect for farmers and agriculture is part of its manifesto I don’t expect to be,” Bharath said.
When asked if there was a rift between him and Moonilal he said “not at all”.
“I have known Dr Moonilal for many years, we were in Opposition together, we have maintained a warm friendship and a cordial friendship and there has been no change in that,” he said.
He also responded to PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds who requested his resignation from Cabinet over his differing views about the bulldozing of crops.
“That is the prerogative of the Prime Minister, I don’ t think Hinds has reached there yet,” he said.