Growing christophene in TrinidadTrinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Food Production is looking to improve food security by expanding production of “non-traditional” crops:

THE PLANTING of non-traditional crops in Trinidad and Tobago could create employment and also reduce the country’s food import bill.

Caribbean Chemicals has partnered with the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs to plant these non-traditional crops. The company recently harvested more than 3,300 pounds of the country’s first commercially viable onion crop at the Tucker Valley Farm, Chaguanas.

Managing Director of Caribbean Chemicals, Joe Pires, said they were “putting their money where their mouth is” and investing in agriculture but at the same time not competing against the small farmer. Pires said they were constantly looking at new crops in an effort to lower the country’s food import bill.

There are four crops that Caribbean Chemicals together with the ministry are looking at commercially growing including onions, carrots, potatoes and peanuts. He commended Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath for having the political will to invest in agriculture.

“These staples can be grown in Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is nearly self sufficient in potatoes, Jamaica is nearly self sufficient in potatoes and carrots. All we needed to start the self sufficiency process was the political will and this current minister has the will. We are looking at import substitution, we are looking to ensure, benefit for all,” he said.

“Planting these crops is about a number of things that benefit the country. Saving our foreign exchange, downstream industries, giving jobs to locals, growing at a competitive price, we can compete against the world. If we can save a million a year that is a lot more you can do for the country,” Pires said.

Read more in the full article from Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday.

[Photo: Denni Schnapp]

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