In the town of Arouca, east Trinidad lies one of the most impressive hydroponic systems in Trinidad and Tobago.
It is ideally located an urban area between major towns, access roads and also near to the Piarco international airport. This means that their for fresh produce is ready for local, regional and international markets
The Choon family trio of producers, grow high quality hydroponically grown lettuce and they make it a point to let the general public know of this on their simple but very effectively labeling.
Also to note is their bar-code which assists in keeping production records provides tracking in the unfortunate event of a breach in food safety.
Using their available landscape the production layout is spread out and raised for easy access and to assist in preventing pest infections. It is supported by a large pump room and tank system as illustrated below.
Apart from its scale the hydroponic system is automated and can be controlled by a control panel located in the pump room as illustrated below.
The device hanging from the ceiling (bottom left hand corner) serves an important purpose. As the Choons do not reside at the location of the enterprise this device is a camera which provides a live feed of the product levels flowing within the system, that is fertilizers and other nutrients.
This live feed is accessible over the internet. Therefore when at home the Choons can monitor the system’s activity and notify a nearby relative to resolve any problems that may arise.
All other parts of the system are in line with a regular hydroponic cycle however, on a medium scale.
Unusual to be seen are the presence of fish nets hanging around the miniature shade house, nearby their pump room which serves as a seedling production center for the enterprise.
Mr. Choon explains, “Because of our raised irrigation lines we don’t have too many insect or fungus problems but there is another pest that is prevalent…birds. They fly down and peck at the lettuce. People ‘eat with their eyes’. They will only buy what looks good. We have already made strides in producing good quality vegetables. So why not ensure it looks good as well.”
In the vein of the term ‘innocentive’ this set up is simply ingenious.