The significance of food goes beyond mere survival for the average Trinbagonian (a person from Trinidad and Tobago). ‘Trinis’ are known to be constantly hungry, intolerant of bad food, and are quite literally a nation of foodies.
Even the custom of visiting the local market on a Saturday morning with granny is a cultural joy Trinidadians share. However, even with this love for food, Trinidad and Tobago is still fighting the battle of becoming a food secure nation.
Trinidad and Tobago has been blessed with a vast diversity of fruits and other tropical crops which has made our local cuisines recognizable in the world today. The potential Trinidad and Tobago has is far from being explored given its resources.
A perfect example of this potential is the nation of Cuba which has, over the years, moved from a state of food insecurity to becoming one of the most food secure countries in the region. As a nation, we have yet to properly explore emerging technologies and probe areas such as underutilized crops and urban agriculture.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the food import bill for CARICOM countries for the past three years has been over US $3 billion dollars. Our love for foreign goods and dependency on oil and natural gas has collectively been a stumbling block for the agricultural industry.
The negative stigma of the agricultural industry which varies from ‘too much hard work’ or an unprofitable venture has been embedded in the minds of young Trinbagonians for many years. Almost every child would like to become a doctor, lawyer or police officer, but how many would like to become farmers?
With the constant change in consumer taste and demand for food, there is an urgent call for Trinidad and Tobago as well as the wider Caribbean to become food secure.
Another pertinent point is that food security is not solely based on the ability to produce one’s own food but it is built on four pillars; availability, access, utilization and stability. These are often forgotten when constructing policies and initiatives.
Nevertheless, this buzzes around an interesting question. How do we as a nation escape this reality of food insecurity?
One answer is to stimulate the young and growing cohorts of our population to have an individual role in achieving food security. Every person should have some direct or indirect participation in agriculture, especially the younger generation.
Just imagine, His Excellency, President Anthony Carmona is a certified farmer who plays his part by planting crops regularly. If the President of Trinidad and Tobago can find the time to plant, shouldn’t we as a nation make a greater effort?
One step forward in making the younger generation involved in agriculture is through the Thought For Food Challenge (TFF). Thought For Food is a next-generation powerhouse founded in 2011 that encompasses of over 5000 students, ambassadors and mentors worldwide.
Each year they run the TFF Challenge which is an incentive prize competition which call on university students worldwide to solve one of biggest challenges both in the present and future: how are we going to feed 9+ billion people by 2050?
With the world estimated population to be 9 billion in 2050 students registered in the competition indulge in TFF’s Design Thinking Lab which is an online portal full with resources to aid in designing their ideas.
This competition concludes at the TFF global summit where 10 finalists would pitch their innovative business plans for the chance to win cash prizes up to $15,000 USD. This year’s lead youth at the forefront of food and agriculture have been selected. This summit also entails lectures and activities from well-renowned professors and speakers in the food and agricultural industry.
“The TFF Global Summit is no conventional conference….It is a thought-provoking event, a celebration of human potential, and a place where people built friendships and collaborations that will last a lifetime. Participants included students, startups, investors, governments, companies and more to shape how we think about and act upon innovation in food and agriculture.”
Such movements and communities are critical to motivate agriyouth to become more involved in our islands’ food security. We are the future!
Written by Christopher
Youth Energizer, Tech4Agri
This year the summit is being held on the 24th -26th May in Amsterdam. Many students from Trinidad and Tobago have registered in this year’s TFF challenge. With Trinidad and Tobago being in the top five of the CARICOM countries with the most imports, new ideas on replacing foreign goods must be developed.
Mention must be given to the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries which has been continuously providing courses and programs on agricultural disciplines such as hydroponics, cocoa production and many more. Though many approaches have been made both domestically and regionally through policies and programs, it must be reiterated that food security is not based on the ability to produce one’s own food but it is built on four pillars; availability, access, utilization and stability. This is an important feature that often eludes policies and initiatives.
With an estimated regional food import bill of US $8 – 10 billion by 2020, the idea of being a food secure nation needs to be addressed urgently to turn that idea into a reality. However, are we ready to pick up this mantle? Whether it is a small start as growing lettuce in your backyard or developing a new idea for tilapia farming or even entering the TFF Challenge, it must begin with our youths, they are the future.
The idea of having a food secured household is one many people believe they have achieved due to financial freedom. However this is not the case. In today’s society each household is dependent on groceries, supermarkets and imported food.
Are we any closer to ensuring our household is food secure? The need for an individual to grow their own produce at home has paved the way for the ‘Nanofarm’.
The Nanofarm in its simplest form is the perfect combination of convenience and efficiency.
Inventors have developed a new method of growing food without any practical work. Just imagine a world where crops are growing, healthy and most importantly for themselves.
The Nanofarm is on its way to becoming a major break-through in food security. It is a self-sufficient based on LED lights, water and plant pods containing organic seeds. The owner of the device simply needs to order a particular crop online in which they would receive a plant pod containing the ordered crop seeds. The plant pod would then be placed into the Nanofarm over a container of water and left to be grown and harvested. It’s that simple.
The Nanofarm boasts many feats besides the luxury of a self-sufficient farm. The overall design of the Nanofarm is made to save time spent searching for healthy fresh food, for the consumer.
High-efficient lighting (LED lights) are used which provides the same amount of daylight from the sun and costs about one dollar of electricity per month. It ensures that food is free of additives (for example fertilizers and pesticides), and labour.
The modular design is made from tough powder-coated steel and natural wood, for example the door hardware is made from highly corrosion-resistant marine-grade aluminium.
From organic seeds, to durable hardware and the joy of a self-sufficient household farm, the Nanofarm seems as the perfect solution to food security.
But does it really provide this ultimate dream? And if so, does it apply to the Caribbean?
Meet Anastasha from St. Kitts and Nevis – Winner of the Caribbean Category of the Youth Agripreneur Project hosted by the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Young Professionals for Agricultural Research and Development (YPARD) among other partners
This video was made possible through the support of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
Our social media team of reporters worked together to cover the event, did an excellent job. However we were intrigued by the other agriyouth we meet at the marketplace activity during the event.
Each week we will feature an agripreneur. Despite all the issues facing the sector with little solutions on the horizon, agriyouth have that drive and determination towards the success of their endeavours. Take an inside look at the event and follow for next week’s featured vlog.
“People do business with who they like and who they trust which is why social media is important. Instead of abusing it one should use social media tools to be more likable and to earn trust.”
– Keron, Creator – Tech4Agri
People are watching you always. This might be quite annoying but it gives you the chance to make a good impression; to connect with your potential audience. We met many who shared these same thoughts at the Caribbean Blogger’s Meetup late last year, organised by SiliconCaribe.
This leading media brand, has both an award-winning technology and digital lifestyle blog and also the largest roster of Caribbean Technology Events.
The event was quite motivational for us as we were able to meet the people behind some of the best online content in the country.
With ever growing access to mobile internet the number of online content producers in Trinidad and throughout the Caribbean has increased. For us this is a great positive as many of these persons are simply using the tools at their disposal to express themselves and provide value to a specific community or target market.
We at Tech4agri are trying to do something similar – produce that online content that not only entertains you but also provides value with knowledge and support for the overall community. In this sense we are capitalizing on the change that has emerged in terms of the way news and information is presented.
By this we mean social video.
Social video is concise, entertaining or interesting, and shareable. Taking a look on any major news outlet or organisation and you will see this trend; that of short shareable pieces of content, is quite common.
Social video is creatively made through a combination of pictures, videos, text, graphics, data and music.
Satisfied we were with the meet-up having found a new network and also another target market for our services specifically as it relates to mobile journalism.
Did you know we recently had our first training session? See photo album covering the event on our facebook page.
How would you stand out with your business? Be yourself!
But what can you learn from such as event. We have some tips for our agripreneurs out there: