Tech4agri is official the #TFFSUMMIT 2017!

It’s official! Tech4Agri are media partners for the Thought for Food Sumit!

We are proud to have earned this opportunity to provide our social reporting service alongside some of the biggest names in food tech news.

Given our partnership we are excited to be the link to the caribbean youth who we strive to support!

As you know the challenge seeks to solve how do we feed 9 billion people by 2050 our projected population of the future. University students take on this task creating #whatsnext in food and agriculture. Their projects represent solutions to real problems facing commuities of every kind throughout the world.

Best of luck to the TFF finalist teams in their pitch! Some of these innovative projects include: a solar powered, floating greenhouse that desalinates ocean water for farm use, a bio particle that safely breaks down pesticide and a dried, fruit based nutrient-rich food which can be used in disaster relief situations and as a solid fuel source.

Clearly the future is ever present in great part to TFF and our community.

It does not stop there. Additionally particiants have access to masterclasses which are hands on, learn by doing workshops. As a participant myself I am keen to be a part of the Next Gen Assemblies – it’s all new!

“These are the TFF twist on the traditional break-out sessions you see at other conferences. The Next-Gen Assemblies have been specially designed to explore cutting-edge topics in food and agriculture using new types of approaches to maximize dialogue and solution development.”

Where else would you go to learn about gamified sustainability, experimental cities, circular economy and DIY innovation and so much more?!

Well you could probably learn those things online, especially as not everyone would be able to be physically be present.

That’s why Tech4Agri will be there live! We will be on twitter, instagram facebook and you can follow live streams . Follow the the hashtag #TFFsummit #TFFchallenge

And we happy to report that our partner Alpha Sennon of WHYFarm will be the closing speaking for the event. He’ll be tell you just exactly how we can beat the challenge #9bx2050. We’re bringing our region to the world!

 — Keron, Creator, Tech4Agri

 

 

A One-Woman Enterprise!

Regina King, entrepreneur & creator of King’s Speciality Drinks

Pannist, choir member, model, actress and woman entrepreneur. Not everyone can boast nor manage such a broad portfolio but one person has certainly done so successfully. Regina King is the founder and mastermind behind one of Trinidad and Tobago’s emerging beverage companies ‘King’s Specialty Drinks’. The company offers a unique array of liquors and ponche de crème which can be used for any occasion.

King hails from the district of Point Fortin, Trinidad and is employed at an energy company in the south of the island. She focuses on her employer’s work during the day and concentrates on her business on evenings and weekends.

My interest was immediately piqued when I sampled some of her product offerings at a recent pop-up market. I knew I wanted to find out a little more about her business so we scheduled an interview.

King’s Specialty Drinks started six years ago as a spinoff from a family tradition creating ponche de crème, cakes and other Christmas delicacies synonymous with Trinidadian Christmas cuisine.

Regina recalls always taking a keen interest in helping around the kitchen while her mom and grand mom would prepare for family gatherings.

“I remember always trying to encourage my mom and grand mom to sell their products because the family recipes would often be a hit among the rest of the family, friends and colleagues. However they would usually laugh off the idea (of a busines) and I don’t think they had the right acumen at the time to understand the foresight I had.”

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Feed the worms not the birds

The Trinidad Boissierre Earthworm Farm – composting workshop and activities of the recently held #techagriexpo2017

Business owners in the agriculture sectors as with many other sectors are always seeking sustainable methods to boost product yield and limit wastage.

Most of us know about or have heard about composting however one would have nurtured a gold mine by using nature’s master composters: worms. The slimy worms also known as oligochaete are more than just bait on a hook or a parasite to humans.

They are a diverse group of organisms whose niche is to decompose organic matter. This is where vermicomposting comes in.

Vermicomposting, if you have not realized by now, is composting with worms. It is an excellent way to assist with proper waste management. However not all worms are suitable to this task.

So what’s the big deal with vermicomposting?

In Vermicomposting, the worms assist with the conversion of the the organic matter or material into a high-end product readily available for plants to use.  How is this possible? Worms feed on the leftovers along with the bacteria produced from the decomposing materials. This in turn accelerates digestion which:

  • Allows matter to physically break down as it passes through the digestive system, providing the bacteria more surface area to act on and
  • Provides more bacteria and enzymes that speeds up the chemical reactions required to produce the compost.

The castings which they produce, are a nutrient-rich addition to the soil. Worm castings contain a highly active biological mixture of bacteria, enzymes, remnants of plant matter and animal manure, as well as earthworm cocoons (while damp). The castings are rich in water-soluble plant nutrients, and contain more than 50% more humus than what is normally found in topsoil.

How is it compared to regular composting?

Some of the benefits of vermicomposting are:

– The use of the worms helps shorten the time taken for harvesting.

– The process is more thorough as both the earthworms and the microorganisms they produce  are acting on the organic material

– Soil contains a higher nutrient value.

– It is more aesthetically appealing; therefore, it is easier to market.

– The process requires less labour, through the borrowing action of the worms to help with the mixing and aeration of the soil.

– And best of all it has a low set up cost.

So how can we develop this practice at home?

Well like any other organism, once you provide them with the right conditions, such as food and shelter, the worms and the process would thrive.

Not all earthworms are suitable for indoor composting. The most common types are the wrigglers, crawlers and garden-variety earthworms. But it would be wise and less expensive to use local or native worms. Such Species are: Eudrilus eugeniae or African Night Crawler, Perionyx excavatus or Indian Blue Worm.

Trinidad Earthworm Farm Boissierre Greens is a partnership between Mark Mica and Dexter Ragonannan, both of whom are interested in healthy waste management, and organic fertilizers. They are located at Boissierre Trace, Gran Couva, Caroni and graciously provided us with an interview to learn more about the practice and their work as pioneers in the field here in T&T.

Mark is currently reading for his PHd in Soils with vermicomposting research providing the base for the establishment of the business.

For more information on vermicomposting please visit their Facebook page and contact them for advice and to schedule a visit to their composting workshop. These workshops include materials, audio and visual displays, a hand guide and a certificate.

When a Caribbean staple meets Italian cuisine!

From left: Jody White (Owner and Founder of Slimdown 360) and Clarence Rambharat (Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Trinidad & Tobago)

A traditional Sunday lunch in most Caribbean households would consist of rice or a pie of some sort, be it macaroni pie or green fig pie, complemented by stewed beans or peas, green leafy vegetables or delicious callaloo, as well as stewed or baked meats. Several Caribbean dishes would not be complete without tubers, better known as ground provisions neatly sliced at the side of the plate.

An assortment of ground provisions including dasheen, cassava, sweet potatoes, eddoes or yams may be used. In another household more than 8300 km away in an Italian household, a typical dish may consist of many variations of pasta.

What happens when a young entrepreneur from Trinidad and Tobago decides to merge these two favourite staple dishes from completely different cultures? That’s right, you guessed it – provision based pasta!

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Agrosuede: Complementing growth

Sometimes backyard gardens can get out of hand. Growth is a powerful thing.

However with the right amount of care and attention, the yields of course are rewarding. As the famous Agriman of W.H.Y.Farm says ” Plant one tree, Eat for free”

Today with the last of this series, Mitchel explains the green touch needed for cherry tomatoes and safely transplanting plants that just grow anywhere..like the roof.

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Agrosuede: Money, Yield, Improvise

You’ve got a thriving backyard garden. There’s a demand for your produce. You have the best seasoning in the village. The logical next step: How can this earn me money!

Agrosuede gives his insight as a young entrepreneur.

Getting into business means you’ve got to keep your yield up. Mitchel give his tips to do just that for peppers. Not only is your yield important but so too are your operations. You may want to scale up.

In today’s last video feature, Mitchel explains how to build a sizable, low cost planter from scratch. This way you can maximize on space in a more effective way.

See more videos below via the read more link below.

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Agrosuede: Backyard Innovations

This week we continue our feature of Agrosuede BackYard Gardening!!

For those who believe that provisions (roots and tubers) must directly be placed in the ground, think again. Mitchel explains how to grow potato, a staple we just happen to import thousands of tonnes, in a container in his backyard.

This is followed right up by a DIY explanation to recycle plastic and glass bottles in your garden to help better manage water. See below!

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Dominica’s Yard Farmer: Agrosuede Backyard Gardening

Pictured to the left: Mitchel at the Compete Caribbean Mediathon

Now that our Agripreneurs series is at an end. We move straight into our next series that features the work of Tech4Agri Team member Mitchel. As you already know he created and continues to run the Youtube Channel, Agrosuede Backyard Gardening.

Mitchel, to say the least one of the best online content creators in the region with near 3000 subscribers, but the one of the few that are focused in Caribbean agriculture, thriving and growing.

His channel has had a long life (by ‘bloggers’ standards) having been started since 2013 and is likely to continue for quite some time. With limited resources and equipment he has still been able to garner over 500, 000 views, including a well developed, accompanying Facebook page.

At Tech4agri we believe in collaboration not competition.

We have been working with Mitchel for almost two years and it was only until late 2016 where we able to meet at a Mediathon event hosted by Compete Caribbean. It centered on STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Math) fields in the media.

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