By Sue-Ann Wayow
DOUBLES, one of the most loved foods in Trinidad and Tobago, is more than just flour and channa and contributes significantly to the local economy.
This is the view expressed by a doubles vendor and head of a business chamber on comments made by Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat.
The minister has been chastised for saying that the ingredients used to make doubles were mainly imported and that citizens should consume different types of food, instead of eating doubles three times a day adding and that it contributed to the population’s health challenges.
Doubles vendor, Kelly Hosein-Richards from The Original Sauce Hot Doubles in Curepe said Rambharat’s comments were an attack on those who has survived from an income of making and selling doubles.
She told AZPNews.com, “We have been in the family business for years. We have branches all over and, this doubles industry has sustained us. Yes, we need flour and channa to make the doubles but much more goes into it. All the seasonings, all the sauces everything else is locally made. His statements were very upsetting.”
She added, “Why did he have to single out doubles as being unhealthy. There are many other fast foods and other things that make people unhealthy. Why didn’t he talk about those as well?”
During the major lockdown period, many citizens even those who are abroad challenged themselves to make doubles, sharing pictures and recipes on social media.
President of the Penal/ Debe Chamber of Commerce, Rampersad Sieuraj said, “From an economic standpoint, any negative stand against the doubles industry can lead to further deprivation of lives and livelihoods to those who are involved in this national industry.”
Debe has long been considered the doubles hub with many food huts lining the main streets.
Sieuraj said, “This industry has international recognition and marketable from a tourism perspective. The industry provides income to thousands and measures to curb its availability or distribution outlets would very negatively impact all involved.”
While he added that medically, negative health concerns can be raised, the minister should provide statistics and facts to back his statements.
And economist Kiran Mathur Mohammed said, “We do not produce or export enough of anything, apart from oil and gas.
“There are still barriers to entry to agriculture, but successive governments have practically thrown incentives at agriculture.”
He said, “It is time for the private sector to step up and invest in high quality exportable produce in niche markets like cocoa or peppers where we have some comparative advantage, instead of arguing over the import composition of any fried street food, no matter how tasty, the sideshow may be.”