It is understood that Rowley gave Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat a mandate to have a million saplings ready for planting in time for the rainy season. And yesterday’s tour was to allow Rowley to see what progress was made on this initiative.
He then made his way to Ecclesville in Rio Claro, where the PM viewed facilities at the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry division branch.
At Maper Farm, Rowley was warmly greeted by workers who seemed very eager to display the healthy-looking saplings which will be used in the reforestation drive.
Rowley thanked them for their commitment in having the plants ready in time and asked that they to do him “a favour”, by ensuring another million plants are available for the rainy season next year.
Rowley, a former agriculture minister, who at a recent cottage meeting said if he is no longer wanted to lead government he would gladly go back to the Tobago to plant the land and rear animals, told the workers at Maper Farm that he very concerned about the wanton slashing and burning of the Northern Range for farming purposes.
This he said has made it easy for forests fires to ravage the hillside and leave areas vulnerable to major flooding and landslides during the rainy season. The reforestation drive is to ensure that the Northern Range can have green cover once again. Even in his own constituency of Diego Martin West, Rowley said, he is very concerned about destruction of the vegetation on the hills, recalling that some constituents had lost their homes as a result of heavy flooding.
The Prime Minister also asked for fruit trees to be planted alongside the soft and hardwood trees so that wildlife could benefit throughout the year. He believed the fruit would also be of use to the public and added that ensuring the country’s return to greenery would redound to the benefit of all.
The Prime Minister said that contrary to what some may believe, he is genuinely interested in ensuring that all home owners benefit from having fruit trees on their premises so people can return to the “good old days” of having freshly squeezed orange, lemon and lime juices with their lunch.
He joked that he grew up drinking freshly squeezed citrus juice and still enjoys them.
Yesterday, Minister Rambharat praised the effort of the farm workers adding the was very pleased to be able to carry out the mandate given him by the Prime Minister, because he too is of the belief that reforestation should be a national priority. He added that some of the fruit trees would go on sale to the public from Monday. The reforestation drive also starts on Monday.