The Trinidad and Tobago Agribusiness Association (TTABA) has given out 38 contracts to cassava farmers in its attempt to boost this country’s cassava output and by extension local production of food.
Speaking at the signing ceremony that was held at Normandie Hotel, St Ann’s yesterday, TTABA chairman Joe Pires described the signing as very important towards this country’s food security.
“This is really an important signing for agriculture, it is really a first step in a long-term development plan,” said Pires.
“This is a critical step towards the future of farming in Trinidad and Tobago. Two hundred and fifty acres of cassava in Trinidad, it has never been done before and that is continuous.”
Pires said TTABA’s aim is to reduce the country’s flour import bill by at least ten per cent through the increase in cassava production.
He also assured farmers that they would not break the contracts that gave farmers a fixed price for their cassava regardless of market fluctuations.
“We are not going to break any contracts. We need the product. We have the retail. We got the markets first, determined what the markets were first. Hi Lo committed to 6,000 loaves a week or a day. We worked that out, how much land we would need, and then we said slowly but surely we are going to increase this as we get more advertising and more products out,” he said.
The cassava bread which is the main end product for the cassava presently is being produced by five bakers.
Pires said at this time they don’t need any more bakers but they are going to groom and work with the five.
He added that although TTABA is still not at an optimum position, they have not had to seek any funding for the year but they hoped by the next four months they would start seeing profits as they continue to restructure.
TTABA acting CEO Neil Gosine was credited as being the brain behind the improvement of business operations at the association.
Gosine said at present they needed 120,000 lbs of cassava to produce the TTABA Farmers Bread brand.