I fondly recall my father’s tales about Trinidad and Tobago’s thriving manufacturing and export of sugarcane and cocoa within the Seventies. Specifically, we produced top quality cocoa that was praised and wanted in Europe and the UK.
Nevertheless, throughout my childhood within the Nineteen Nineties, there have been few sugarcane farms and cocoa estates left to fawn over, and the financial system’s concentrate on oil and gasoline, in addition to imports, left a dwindling agricultural sector.
In 1972 agriculture contributed to over 7% of the dual islands’ GDP, however in 2019 this determine stood at a meager 1% (1).
Plus, the nation’s worthwhile oil and gasoline financial system has left a big carbon footprint, leading to its less-than-ideal rankings on Yale’s Environmental Efficiency Index (EPI) for local weather change (2, 3).
But, guided by the United Nation’s (UN’s) 2030 Sustainable Improvement Targets (SDGs) and financial diversification efforts, the dual islands’ agricultural sector is at present experiencing development, with a noticeably revamped cocoa manufacturing (4).
On this article, I’ll take a more in-depth take a look at what sustainable agriculture seems like in Trinidad and Tobago and establish potential areas for future improvement.
Agriculture accounted for 4% of the gross home product (GDP) globally in 2018 and stays a vital part of financial development (5).
Alternatively, sustainable agriculture goals to satisfy present meals wants with out harming the surroundings or human well being. It does so by integrating ecosystems into farming, effectively utilizing nonrenewable sources, and supporting and enhancing pure sources (8).
What challenges does sustainable ag face in Trinidad and Tobago?
Sustainable agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is in its early phases and affected by restricted arable land and substantial meals imports.
That’s as a result of T&T’s oil and gasoline financial system supplies over 45% of the island’s GDP, and this sector claims that taxes on its actions might hamper the financial system (12).
As such, the federal government has prioritized financial diversification and motion towards a “blue” financial system — which might develop sustainable aquaculture — over a inexperienced financial system.
Sustainable agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago, which is in its early phases, has been restricted by restricted arable land, worry of excessive taxes for oil and gasoline actions, and choice for a “blue” financial system shaped round sustainable aquaculture.
Agroecology is a farming observe that mixes the sciences of agronomy and ecology.
This model of farming restores degraded lands, helps human well being by way of improved entry to nutritious meals, and fosters biodiversity by strategically cultivating symbiotic crop relationships (
In Trinidad and Tobago, Rocrops Agrotec — a 30-year-old, family-owned, smallholder farm — is main the agroecological area (15).
Constructed on previously degraded and acidic sugarcane fields, this farm rehabilitated its land by way of soil restoration and the minimal utility of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
As an alternative, the farm makes use of fertigation — the distribution of small, exact quantities of fertilizers twice per day through a crop watering system — to keep away from extreme fertilizer use, plus lemongrass as a weed deterrent instead of herbicides (
The farm grows limes, different tropical fruits, greens, and herbaceous perennials. Doing so not solely produces top quality, pesticide-free crops all year long but in addition supplies an ecosystem for bees, birds, frogs, and different wildlife.
Rocrops Agrotec’s method boosts meals manufacturing, is environmentally pleasant, and provides an economically sound farming mannequin.
Agroecology is a farming observe that enhances biodiversity to assist agricultural manufacturing. The Rocrops Agrotec family-owned farm is the chief of agroecological sustainable agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago.
Firms that concentrate on sustainability attempt to revive marine ecosystems by decreasing overfishing and the necessity for backside trawling — a typical fishing observe that damages marine life and ecosystems (
T&T’s Ministry of Agriculture, Land, and Fisheries provides free coaching programs to farmers and most people in aquaculture and aquaponics, making small-scale sustainable farming extra accessible and widespread (22).
Aquaponics combines conventional aquaculture and hydroponic farming — the rising of crops with nutrient-rich mineral options as an alternative of soil — in order that the waste from fish and aquatic organisms are used as vitamins for crops (
These coaching programs train the fundamentals of pond building and have led to the institution of small aquaculture farms that may generate earnings or scale back meals payments by way of homegrown meals manufacturing (24).
Aquaculture and aquaponics are small-scale farming practices which can be gaining popularity all through Trinidad and Tobago on account of free coaching programs provided by the federal government.
Vertical techniques might use hydroponics, aquaponics, or aeroponics — during which mineralized aerosols are utilized to the roots of crops — to develop herbs like chives and mint, greens like lettuce and mustard greens, and even tomatoes.
Inexperienced Age Farms in Trinidad and Tobago provides and installs vertical hydroponics techniques and greenhouse provides to assist sustainable, environmentally pleasant, and resource-efficient farming strategies (27).
These vertical farms goal each private and industrial farming and will be present in areas starting from conventional greenhouses to kitchen gardens to folks’s backyards.
Inexperienced Age Farms provides and installs vertical hydroponics techniques for private and industrial farming. You need to use vertical farming to develop smaller crops like tomatoes, leafy greens, and herbs.
The Extension, Coaching, and Info Companies Division (ETIS) of T&T’s Ministry of Agriculture, Land, and Fisheries provides an array of free agricultural coaching programs (28).
Free trainings embody crop manufacturing, livestock, home gardening, introductory natural farming, fertilizer use, and pest administration. The Ministry additionally provides seedlings for residence gardening at no cost or on the market, in addition to incentive grants and funding for farmers (22, 29).
For example, you may take a course on residence gardening from the Ministry’s program, then put this information into observe with a set of free or backed seeds for crops like black-eyed peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.
Though these trainings aren’t sustainable agricultural practices within the conventional sense, they bridge a spot between schooling and meals manufacturing whereas selling meals sovereignty and native consuming.
Free agricultural programs in Trinidad and Tobago encourage native, self-sustaining meals manufacturing.
“WhyFarm is a catalyst for inspiration within the agricultural sector,” says Alpha Sennon, founder and CEO of the award-winning nonprofit WhyFarm (30).
His method extends past the farm and focuses on educating school-age youngsters with the long-term objective of growing a sustainable agricultural sector and generations of environmentally aware farmers in Trinidad and Tobago.
By way of the creation of the world’s first meals safety and vitamin superhero, AGRIman, Sennon and his workforce use “agri-entertainment” to creatively have interaction younger audiences and policymakers alike (31).
- Grown in East Port of Spain. This neighborhood backyard is positioned in a low earnings neighborhood within the capital metropolis. Neighborhood members are educated in residence gardening and “agripreneurship” to construct financial alternatives.
- Culinary Drugs Meals Park. This hydroponic backyard system, which is positioned within the San Fernando Basic Hospital, grows meals to feed sufferers and goals to scale back the hospital’s meals invoice.
- College of AgriCOOLture and faculty gardens. These tasks train school-age youngsters about agriculture by way of theatre, spoken phrase, poetry, dance, and music classes. As well as, college gardens and farming have been applied throughout many main faculties.
WhyFarm is an award-winning group that focuses on youth schooling and “agri-entertainment” to advertise sustainable agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago.
Within the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, sustainable agriculture is in its developmental phases. But, it has a promising future by way of agroecology, aquaculture, vertical farming, free coaching programs, and the emergence of neighborhood gardens.
Because of the collaborative efforts of the private and non-private agricultural sectors, neighborhood members in East Port of Spain can enhance their financial capacities by way of harvesting crops like bok choy.
Small-scale aquaponic and vertical hydroponic farming could also be the way forward for kitchen gardens, empowering residents to develop a few of their very own meals and set up extra sustainable, healthy eating habits.